A general dentist is a family dentist, who takes care of the basic health of the teeth and gums of the whole family. Twice a year, visit our dental clinic for a thorough examination, including oral cancer screening, a professional cleaning by our dental hygienist, and x-rays, when they are scheduled for you.
We will also instruct you about what you can do at home to care for your teeth and gums on a regular basis – brushing, flossing, rinsing, and caring for any special appliances or dentures. With instruction, you can do an excellent job at home of caring for your teeth and preventing tooth decay and gum problems. You can also teach your children to do the same.
Preventative Dental Care
The success of your dental health program starts at home, but Smooth Dental Group forms the other part of your team, with the goal being your lifelong beautiful smile and healthy teeth and gums.
Home Dental Care
At home, it is recommended that you brush your teeth twice a day, choosing your times to best achieve long periods of clean teeth. For example, you could brush after breakfast and before bed. If you like an especially clean-feeling mouth, pack a travel toothbrush so you can brush whenever you like. Ten basics of cleaning your teeth are:
- Use a toothbrush with a small head, the better to fit into the contours.
- Your toothbrush should have soft bristles.
- Angle your toothbrush so that half the bristles are on the tooth and half on the gum, so some of the bristles will sweep under the gumline.
- Use a circular brushing motion.
- Use the tip of your toothbrush to clean the inside of the center teeth on top and bottom.
- Keep your toothbrush clear of bacteria by rinsing with hot water, or even better, hydrogen peroxide.
- Replace your brush at least every three months, as the bristles wear out.
- At least once a day, preferably before sleep, floss your teeth, using whichever dental floss or tape works best for you. Some people need a very thin floss; others require a nice thick tape.
- Form the floss into a U-shape around the base of each tooth and rub it up and down the tooth surface on each side.
- Be sure to floss below the gum line.
Dental Checkups Twice a Year
Your examination and cleaning at the Smooth Dental Group includes the following services:
- Digital x-rays (during some visits)
- Periodontic screening and recording probe, to check for gum disease
- Intra-oral camera images showing each tooth – displayed on individual monitors in each operatory for diagnosis and demonstration purposes
- Ultra-sonic and hand-instrument scaling, to remove plaque and tartar
- Tooth polishing, to clean and whiten by the removal of plaque and debris
- Dental hygiene instruction
- Oral cancer screening
- Fluoride treatment, as needed
- Molar sealants, as needed
- Examination by Dr. Tran, with diagnosis and treatment recommendations
Care of Gums
Gum disease is sometimes referred to as a silent disease, because many people have it without realizing. One of the first symptoms of a mild case of gum disease, or gingivitis, might be bleeding or reddened gums, or there might actually be no discernible symptoms.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The villain is plaque, especially hardened plaque or tartar. This hard substance is also calledcalculus. When your dental hygienist scrapes your teeth, it is the tartar that she is removing, sometimes with hand instruments and sometimes with the aid of an ultra-sonic scaler, which uses high-frequency sound vibration to break down the cell walls of bacteria. At this point, bacteria will no longer stick to the teeth and may be washed away.
When too much tartar builds up at the gumline, it forces your gums away from the base of the teeth (which should be tightly cradled by the gums). Bacteria is able to filter down into the resulting gap. More tartar forms below the gum line and even on the roots of the teeth. Infection can spread.
Treatments for Gum Disease
- Scaling: The hygienist does a very thorough job of removing tartar, concentrating on the gumline area and just below it.
- Root Planing: Scraping root surfaces with a dental instrument makes them smooth. Thus it will be less likely that plaque can stick and harden into calculus.
- Antibiotic Gum Treatment: After a thorough cleaning of tooth and root surfaces, as needed, antibiotic paste is applied between the gums and the teeth to keep bacteria from growing there during healing. As the gums heal, they reattach themselves to the roots and base of the teeth.
- Periodontal surgery: In extreme cases of gum disease (periodontitis), we refer patients to a periodontal specialist, called a periodontist, for gum surgery.
Smooth Dental Group offices employ the latest digital x-ray technology to create enhanced digital imaging of teeth, gums, and jaws. These computer images help us to better detect, diagnose, and treat our patients for all of their dental needs.
Digital x-rays are a superior method of collecting radiographic images for several reasons.
- First, this highly sensitive method can reveal the tiniest areas of decay, infection, and abnormality in the teeth and gums.
- Also, since the images are collected directly into the computer, they can be manipulated easily to magnify contrast or detail.
- Digital x-rays can be effortlessly transferred from computer to computer, or sent to patients and insurance companies quickly.
- Finally, digital x-rays produce less radiation than traditional methods and are therefore much safer.