One of the unfortunate facts of the world is that most people don’t like going to the dentist and will do all they can to avoid it. Convincing people of the importance of dental regular exams and cleanings is difficult when most will only decide to go to the dentist if they’re symptomatic.
The American Dental Association recommends that people should go for dental regular exams and cleanings twice a year or once every 6 months. These aren’t visit where you go to the doctor because a tooth hurts or anything else. The sole purpose of these is to for the dentist to examine and clean your teeth.
What Happens During Dental Regular Exams and Cleanings
These visits consist of two portions: the exam and the cleaning. The exam has to be done thoroughly and it has to include all aspects of the mouth. The dentist starts by taking a close look at your oral cavity including under the tongue and all surfaces of your teeth using special tools. Teeth are examined for signs of decay, cavities, and infections. The mouth is inspected for masses, irregularities, and discolored areas.
After taking a good look, your mouth will then by palpated using the dentist’s fingers and tools. A free exam on inspection doesn’t mean that there’s nothing there. Sometimes a mass or area might be too small to be seen but can be felt on palpation. Don’t worry though; this is done gently using one or two fingers.
Abnormal areas that look like masses or discolored will most likely need to be biopsied. If they look benign, the dentist might leave them alone and ask you to come back in a few weeks to see if they resolved. If not, then a biopsy will need to be taken and sent for pathology. Most biopsies are benign so there’s nothing to worry about until we have the final and official pathology report.
Now that the exam part of the visit is over, the dentist will begin to clean your teeth. We’re not talking about regular cleaning. The goal of cleaning at the dentist’s office is to get rid of built up tartar and plaque. These are hard aggregations that build up over teeth and can contain bacteria. While they may remain dormant forever, it’s also a possibility that they might start to cause trouble. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to remove these at home no matter how hard you try. Special tools available at the dentist’s office are required.
Keep in mind that the twice a year or once every 6 months recommendation is for adults. Children might be asked to come in more frequently for dental regular exams and cleanings depending on their dental status. Rest assured that Dr. Shaggy does everything possible to keep her office a comfortable and stress-free space. We know that visiting the dentist is stressful, and it’s something we’re trying to change for the best interest of our patients.