Do you remember the first time you went out in a date?
Hopefully it was a time spent introducing yourself and getting to know the other person. Dr. Koenig wants to treat each patient as an individual. We do not treat mouths, we treat individuals. Each one of us has different backgrounds and goals we want to achieve. The exam is a co-discovery for both Dr. Koenig and his patient. It might entail radiographs, pictures, clinical evaluation, cancer screening and some others, but the most important thing is the time spent together getting to know each other. Come and experience the difference!
Professional Dental Cleaning
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
- Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
What’s Up with All that Poking at My Gums During Cleaning?
Have you ever wondered why your dentist starts rattling off a series of numbers to the hygienist in the middle of your cleaning? 2, 2, 3, 2, 4, 5! What’s going on there? What your dentist is doing is checking the depth of gum tissue pockets that surround your tooth. It’s a proactive way to identify your risk for gum disease, and when done regularly, can help catch it early. Dental probing is a pretty interesting exercise in dentistry, can save you from surgery and extractions, and here’s why.
Dental Probing Catches Problems Early
One reason to visit the dentist regularly is to identify problems in our mouth that you are completely oblivious to. Subtle changes in the health of our gum tissue can be missed by the naked eye, and some people – even those who visit a dentist regularly – can be prone to anexcess buildup of plaque and tartar that can result in gingivitis and periodontal disease. Thankfully, your dental team can catch these changes early through the use of X-rays and the practice of dental probing. The reason for probing is straightforward. As periodontal disease progresses, the visible markers of the disease (plaque and tartar) migrate down along the side of the tooth into the natural “pocket” between the ridge of the gumline and the tooth’s enamel. This inflames the gum tissue and widens this naturally slim gap between the tooth and gum. As this gap becomes wider, even more bacteria are allowed access to the sensitive tissue fibers along the root’s outer surface, causing more damage. This process may result in bone loss, and the need to extract a tooth. This is why probing is so important.
How Does Dental Probing Work?
“Probing” is quite simple and is accomplished by using a dental “probe” to measure the depth of a tooth’s pocket. The probe acts like a ruler, and has markings along its side measured out in millimeters. To measure the depth of your tooth’s pocket, your dentist gently places the probe into this pocket and makes note of the depth. Those numbers you hear are the millimeter depths of your pocket. Six measurements are taken per tooth, three along the outside, and three along the inside of each tooth. A depth of three millimeters or under without any bleeding is generally accepted as healthy. Above that number, your dentist may suggest more thorough cleanings, including scaling and root planning, or something even more comprehensive if the number is above a five and nearing ten.
So, as you can see, maintaining pocket health is critical, and proper brushing and flossing can help clear away plaque and prevent the tartar buildup that expands a pocket. Your dentist also plays a critical role in ensuring you’re staying ahead of gum disease, so be sure to keep your
regular appointments – particularly if you have been identified as having periodontitis and recommended for more frequent, thorough cleanings. With a good routine and frequent visits to the dentist the only numbers you’ll be hearing moving forward should be 1, 2 and 3! Keep up the good work!
Our office uses digital radiographs. This allows us to minimize your exposure to radiation by 90%. We are also helping the environment by not utilizing harsh chemicals that need to be discarded constantly.
As your dental health care team, we want to help you be on the lookout for symptoms of abnormal conditions in your mouth. One of the most serious problems we ever encounter is oral cancer, which affects about 37,000 Americans every year. It is a particularly dangerous form of cancer because it may produce very little discomfort in its beginning stages and go undiagnosed for a long time.
We check your mouth for signs of the disease during each periodic check-up, but you remain the key component in our early detection program.
What should I be looking out for?
- A sore or lesion in the mouth that doesn’t heal within two weeks
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil or lining of the mouth
- A persistent sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, moving jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth
- Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
- Chronic hoarseness.
If you haven’t had your periodic cleaning and examination in over six months, please schedule your appointment today! We’ll be happy to perform an oral cancer screening as part of your visit.
What Should I do if I Have One of the Above Symptoms?
These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious problems, but the also indicate the possible presence of oral cancer. Please contact our office immediately to have the doctor examine you.
If you primarily drink bottled or filtered water in your home, you may want to heed the American Dental Association’s (ADA) recommendation on the use of fluoride to protect your children from the pain of cavities. Doing so can also save you a lot of money in unwanted pediatric tooth repair. Fluoride, found naturally and in many municipalities’ tap water, plays a major role in preventing tooth decay. The mineral strengthens tooth enamel and makes teeth more resistant to attacks from plaque, bacteria and sugars in the mouth.
In the recent study, an expert panel established by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs concluded that professionally applied fluoride treatments can reduce cavities in school-aged children and young adults. Specifically, it noted that a fluoride varnish applied every six months can help prevent dental decay in a typical child and even significantly help high-risk patients (those very prone to cavities).
Cavities can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Preventative fluoride treatments, as recommended by the ADA, cost a mere fraction of that amount.
The most common spot to get cavities in children is in the grooves of the chewing surfaces of the tooth. These grooves can be sealed with a synthetic coating to help prevent cavities.
We would love to hear from you!