Dental Cleanings and Exams: What They Entail and Why They Are Important

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Man smiles widely after dental cleanings and exams in Dallas, TX

Dental cleanings and exams are an essential part of general dentistry to maintain good oral health. They are necessary for preventing dental problems and keeping our teeth and gums healthy. But, if you don’t know what they entail, then you may not know how beneficial yearly cleanings and exams actually are.

Dental professionals recommend visiting a general dentist at least twice a year for preventive dental cleanings and exams. Has it been longer than six months since your last dental visit? Contact Lakewood Dental Group in Dallas, TX, at (214) 827-1885 to schedule your appointment now.

If you’ve always wondered why biannual dental cleanings and exams are so important for your health, then keep reading. In this article, we explore what dental cleanings and exams entail, and why they are important for your overall well-being.

What are dental exams?

A dental exam is a comprehensive evaluation of your oral health. During a dental exam, your dentist examines your:

  • Teeth
  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Buccal cavities (the insides of the cheek) 
  • Floor of the mouth
  • Roof of the mouth
  • Back of the throat

Dentists are looking for any signs of dental problems, such as:

  • Cavities 
  • Gum disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Jaw and dental misalignments
  • Dental damage
  • Receding gums or bone tissue

Dental exams typically include a visual exam in which the dentist assesses the overall health of the oral cavity. However, many dentists use intraoral cameras to get a better idea of how hard-to-see areas of the mouth are faring.

During a dental exam, your dentist first examines your teeth for any signs of decay, cracks, or other damage. They also check for any signs of gum disease, such as redness, swelling, or bleeding gums. 

Furthermore, dentists are looking for subtle signs of oral cancer, such as: 

  • New red or white bumps in the mouth
  • Persistent mouth sores that do not heal
  • Thickening of certain oral tissues, including the cheeks and tongue
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • A sore throat or a sensation like there is a lump in the throat
  • Jaw pain or numbness
  • Sudden or chronic bad breath
  • Voice changes
  • Weight loss (especially without diet or exercise changes)

To get a better idea of how the jawbones look and function, a dentist may include dental x-rays as part of an in-depth exam. Our Dallas dentists use digital x-rays, which require significantly less radiation (up to 90% less, in fact!). This means that our x-rays are safer for all patients, including children and expectant parents.

What are dental cleanings?

A dental cleaning is a procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the teeth and around the gumline. Plaque is a claggy film that forms on the teeth and contains harmful bacteria. Over time, plaque hardens and turns into hard tartar, which can only be removed by a trained dental professional.

During a dental cleaning, a dental hygienist uses special tools to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. At Lakewood Dental Group, we use top-of-the-line ultrasonic dental tools to make dental cleanings faster, more effective, and less painful.

After a dental hygienist removes built-up plaque and tartar, they can then polish the teeth to remove any surface stains. Many patients choose to pursue fluoride treatments immediately after dental cleanings, as fluoride is clinically proven to help prevent tooth decay.

Why are dental exams and cleanings important?

Medical professionals recommend biannual dental exams and cleanings for optimal health. This means that patients should visit their general dentists at least twice a year for preventive maintenance. 

However, many patients require more frequent trips to their general dentists, as certain factors can lead to declining oral health, such as:

  • Genetic predisposition to cavities and gum disease
  • Systemic health conditions that affect oral health, like diabetes
  • Continued tooth loss

These preventive maintenance appointments are crucial for good oral and systemic health. Let’s go over some reasons why regular dental exams and cleanings are essential for your health.

Prevent Future Dental Problems

Dental cleanings and exams can help prevent dental problems, such as:

  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Dental damage
  • Oral cancer 

By catching these problems early, your dentist can provide treatment before they become more serious. It also prevents oral issues from affecting other systems of the body, such as the:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Respiratory system
  • Nervous system

Maintain Great Oral Health

Regular dental cleanings and exams are essential for maintaining great oral health. They help to:

  • Locate areas of dental damage or decay
  • Address the early signs of gum disease (called gingivitis)
  • Remove plaque and tartar from the teeth
  • Identify oral cancers early and with higher accuracy

Improve Overall Health

Research reveals that poor oral health has been linked to several health problems, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Liver issues
  • Metabolic syndrome

This inherent link between the mouth and the rest of the body is called the oral-systemic connection. Today, it is the driving principle behind most modern dental treatments. 

Regular dental exams and cleanings can help establish a better, healthier connection between the mouth and body. As a result, routine dental cleanings and exams are a great way to enhance your overall health.

Save More Money and Time

Preventive dental care, such as regular exams and cleanings, can save you money and time in the long run. By preventing dental problems, you can avoid costly dental procedures such as fillings, root canals, and extractions.

When should you schedule dental cleanings and exams?

Many experts (including the American Dental Association) recommend scheduling dental cleanings and exams every six months. However, the frequency of your dental visits may vary depending on your individual oral health needs. For example, some patients may require quarterly or triannual dental visits to address their needs.

Our dentists in Dallas, TX, can recommend the best schedule for your dental exams and cleanings based on your oral health history.

Schedule your dental cleanings and exams now!

You deserve a healthy, strong, and brilliant smile. Regular dental cleanings and exams at Lakewood Dental Group can help! So, don’t wait–contact our dentists in Dallas, TX, on our website here or at (214) 827-1885 now.