Routine preventive care is the foundation of life-long oral health. Regular dental exams and hygiene cleanings can help you avoid dental issues from developing in the first place, and during these appointments, our Toronto dentists will also provide guidance for better at-home oral care.
Dental Exams in Toronto
Your long-term dental health starts with routine care, and this includes regular dental exams with your dentist.
These regular checkups are an essential part of your oral hygiene routine. They give your dentist an opportunity to assess your dental health and catch issues that may be starting to develop before they become serious problems.
When you have a routine of visiting the dentist on a regular basis, you'll likely find you generally experience fewer dental health issues over time than you would otherwise, so make a point to book that checkup!
Depending on your specific needs, your dentist may recommend that you visit our office for a checkup every 4, 6, or 9 months.
During your oral exam, your dentist will take a close look at your teeth, gums, jaw and bite for any signs of problems. Your dental exam may also include dental x-rays, an oral cancer screening, and other routine diagnostic procedures.
Oral Cancer Screening in Toronto
Oral cancer can affect any part of the mouth or surrounding tissues. During your exam, your dentist will check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer which are difficult to detect with the naked eye.
At-Home Oral Hygiene for our Toronto Patients
Your dentist can only do so much when he sees you a few times a year; when it comes down to it, your at-home dental care routine is the key to keeping your teeth and gums healthy for life.
Fortunately, for most people, at-home dental hygiene is really simple and can be accomplished in just a few minutes a day. Here's how:
Brush twice a day for two minutes at a time. Use a circular brushing motion that covers the whole tooth, and be sure to cover the fronts and backs of your teeth. Take extra time with the back of your mouth as this area can be tricky to reach!
Floss every night before bed. Gently insert the floss between two of your teeth, and bend it into a c-shape around one tooth, and then the other. Work the floss gently up and down in this way a couple of times. Then, work around the rest of your mouth methodically. Take your time.Consider adding a complete mouthwash. This is not an essential step, but for many people can be a finishing touch on their dental routine. Choose a 'complete' mouthwash that helps kill plaque-causing bacteria and also helps remineralize your enamel if this is a concern. Simply swish for 30 seconds twice a day.
Dental Cleanings in Toronto
No matter how thorough and detailed your at-home oral hygiene routine is, some tartar and plaque will inevitably develop on your teeth over time, and this can only be removed safely with a professional dental cleaning.
Your dentist or dental hygienist has the requisite tools and expertise to properly remove plaque and tartar from your teeth without damaging your enamel.
We will often schedule your routine dental cleaning during the same appointment as your dental exam, and the cleaning will most often happen first.
Fluoride Treatment in Toronto
Professional fluoride treatments are designed to help remineralize tooth enamel to prevent cavities from forming. Your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment for patients who are at increased risk of tooth decay – most often children.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that can strengthen your tooth enamel to help prevent and slow down the progression of tooth decay. In some cases, it can even remineralize areas of early tooth decay, essentially reversing the damage.
Gum Disease Therapy in Toronto
Gum disease is essentially an infection of the gums that can affect both the soft and hard tissues of the mouth, including the gums, bone, and other structures. Preventive therapy is often successful in treating early periodontal disease. For more severe cases, more extensive treatment is usually required, but it can be reversed with care and sustained effort.
Preventive Dental Hygiene FAQs
What happens during a routine dental exam?
During your routine examinations, the following will happen.
If you had x-rays, your dentist will check them for problems. Most people don't have x-rays at every exam, especially if they are attending these routine appointments more than once a year. The frequency with with you have x-rays done will depend on a variety of factors, including how long it's been since your last appointment, your general dental health, and the results from previous x-rays.
Next, your dentist will:
- Perform a physical examination of your teeth and gums
- Check your bite – in other words, how your top and bottom teeth fit together. If you have a bite problem, you may be referred to an orthodontist.
- Check for signs of oral cancer. This involves both looking and feeling for unusual lumps or growths in the mouth, face, and neck.
What happens during a dental cleaning?
Your dentist or dental hygienist will start by using a scaler to get rid of plaque and tartar around your gum line and between your teeth. You'll notice they may spend more time on certain spots where the buildup is more significant.
Once all of the tartar and plaque have been cleared away, the hygienist or dentist will brush your teeth with a high-powered electric brush and a gritty toothpaste.
The brush provides a deep clean and removes any remaining tartar that may still be present, and the gritty consistency of the toothpaste gently scrubs your teeth to polish them.
Next, your dentist or hygienist will perform a professional flossing. They have the expertise to get deep between your teeth and locate any potential trouble spots. This process also has the added benefit of removing any leftover plaque or toothpaste from earlier in the cleaning process.
To complete the cleaning, you will rinse out your mouth to get rid of any debris.
Finally, at the end of the cleaning, your hygienist will provide you with guidance relating to your at-home routine, and give you suggestions for improvements. They will also point out any trouble spots you may have (for instance, spots that had more buildup) so that you can take extra care in those areas of your mouth in the future.
How is a dental hygiene cleaning different than a dental examination?
Although dental examinations and dental cleanings are often performed during the same appointment, they are in fact distinct procedures.
The cleaning is exactly what it sounds like; during this procedure, a dental professional (usually a hygienist, but sometimes the dentist) will clean tartar and plaque from your teeth that may have developed since the last cleaning. They will also perform a professional flossing and polish your teeth.
The dental exam is usually done after the cleaning is complete. During this part of the appointment, the dentist will examine your teeth and gums for any signs of dental disease. Some dental exams also include dental x-rays.
How does fluoride treatment prevent cavities?
Fluoride prevents cavities (tooth decay) by helping to make the tooth enamel more resistant to the action of acids. Fluoride treatments can accelerate the buildup of healthy minerals in the enamel, thereby slowing down, and in some cases even reversing, decay.
Is fluoride safe?
Used with the oversight of a dental professional, fluoride is safe, and in fact beneficial for the teeth. As with anything, excess amounts of fluoride can cause dental problems, however, so if you are considering using a fluoridated product, be sure to consult with your dentist first.
What are the treatment options for gum disease?
Gum disease treatment varies depending on the severity of the case and the individual needs of the patient. It may be surgical or non-surgical.
Non-surgical treatments for periodontal disease include scaling and root planing, and/or antibiotics. Surgical options include pocket reduction surgery and guided tissue regeneration.