Spring Clean Your Teeth
Add a dental visit to this year's spring-cleaning list. A professional dental cleaning at least twice a year can improve your oral health, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.
"A prophylaxis, also known as a 'prophy' or professional dental cleaning, reinforces the at-home oral health regimen," says AGD spokesperson Anne Murray, DDS. "It is designed to preserve health, prevent the spread of disease and give the dentist an opportunity to locate other areas in the mouth that may need attention."
It is strongly recommended that a dentist or hygienist perform a dental cleaning every three to six months, says Dr. Murray. She discourages consumer use of over-the-counter tooth polishing instruments.
"People with healthy teeth and gums typically do not experience soreness after a cleaning," says Dr. Murray. Those with less-than-perfect oral hygiene habits may experience discomfort or heightened sensitivity during a dental cleaning. The dentist can use a topical anesthetic before the cleaning to alleviate pain.
What is a dental cleaning?
Diagnostic services may include:
Reviewing and updating medical history, including heart problems, cancer treatment, pregnancy, diabetes, joint replacement, medications, surgeries or any other major changes in health history
Blood pressure check
Oral cancer examination and screening
Evaluation of gum tissue
Checking biting, chewing and swallowing patterns
X-rays, examination of teeth to detect decay
Treatment planning Referral to specialists for specific treatment
Preventive services may include:
Removal of plaque and tartar
Sealants Polishing of fillings or crowns
Educational services may include:
Updated: February 2007