Here at Blackstone Family Dentistry, preventative dental care and diagnostic exams are the heart of what we do.
Properly caring for your mouth and your teeth are very important to a person’s overall health and can even increase life expectancy. We not only clean our patient’s teeth, but also help educate them on proper care methods and techniques.
We know that our patients in the Blackstone area are busy and that coming to the dentist for a cleaning is not something that is high on most people’s list of favorite things to do, which is why we use up-to-date technology, equipment, and practices to make sure your experience is as pleasant as possible.
Read on below to learn everything you need to know about routine dental cleanings and preventative care, including why it’s important, what it entails, and what happens during a typical appointment.
What is Preventative Dentistry?
Simply put, preventative dentistry is the process of caring for your teeth to prevent bad things from happening to them, including cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, gingivitis, and other problems.
Most preventative dentistry is actually done by you, at home. This includes things like:
- Brushing your teeth and tongue 2-3 times a day with toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association
- Flossing your teeth daily
- Eating a healthy diet
However, dentists also play an important role in preventative care. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that having your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year can improve your oral health. In addition, if there are any problems developing, routine dental cleanings on a regular basis will help catch those problems early on when they are easier to treat.
What is a Dental Cleaning?
A professional dental cleaning is simply a short exam focused on preventative dentistry that typically includes three parts: diagnostic services, preventative care, and patient education. Some of these services will be performed by a dentist, while others will be performed by a dental hygienist, which is a licensed dental professional specially trained in the prevention and treatment of many oral diseases.
During the diagnostic portion of the exam, the dentist and/or dental hygienist will examine the patient and look for any potential problems. They’ll look at things like:
- Health of the gum tissue
- Any signs of oral cancer
- Any signs of tooth decay
- Biting, chewing, and swallowing patterns
The hygienist will also make sure they have any pertinent information about your medical history, since that may impact your oral health.
During the preventative care portion of a dental cleaning, the dental hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, polish the teeth, clean and adjust dentures or partial dentures, apply fluoride to the teeth (a natural mineral that helps prevent cavities by hardening the enamel on the teeth), and—in the case of children—apply sealants to the teeth.
They will also floss your teeth and in some cases remove stains or whiten your teeth.
The patient education portion of the dental cleaning appointment is focused on making sure that people have the knowledge to properly care for their teeth. This includes things like:
- Proper flossing and brushing techniques
- Proper nutritional knowledge
- Knowledge about the harmful effects of tobacco products on oral health
Giving people the information they need to keep their teeth healthy is an important part of the preventative care process.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Cleanings and Preventative Care
We often get questions from patients about dental cleanings and diagnostic exams. Here are some of the most asked questions along with the answers.
Will my insurance cover dental cleanings?
Most dental insurance covers routine preventative dental cleanings once every six months. In some cases, insurance will also cover cavity detection X-rays of the teeth once a year. Sometimes we may recommend additional preventative treatments that are not covered by insurance, such as fluoride treatments. In those cases it is up to the patient whether or not they want to pay for those treatments.
Do you accept Medicaid?
Yes, we accept Medicaid and Smiles for Children.
Why do I need to see a dentist every six months if I brush and floss my teeth? Isn’t that enough?
Brushing and flossing your teeth every day is important, but that by itself will only delay the onset of problems, not prevent them. You still need a professional cleaning every six months to keep your mouth healthy. However, there is another reason to see a dentist often—they are often able to detect other health problems like diabetes, bone loss, oral cancer, and jaw joint problems while they are in their early stages and more treatable. That’s because our oral health is very much related to the health of the rest of our bodies.
Is there a penalty if I cancel my appointment?
Our office may charge a cancellation fee if your cancel your appointment with less than 24 hours notice. If we are given enough notice we are often able to see other patients at that time, some of whom may be in pain and in need of dental care.
How far in advance to I need to make an appointment?
We recommend making an appointment as soon as you are aware that you need or want dental care.
What should I bring with me to my first appointment?
We ask that you bring a list of any medication that you are currently taking, any allergies you have to mediations or latex, as well as any dentures, partial dentures, night guards, or orthodontic retainers you wear.
If you have records or x-rays from a previous dentist please bring them as well so that we can add them to your new patient record. Also, feel free to bring any questions or requests you may have concerning your teeth.