Dentists recommend their patients visit the office at least once a year for a dental cleaning and thorough exam. This gives the dentist the opportunity to catch any potential dental problems in their earliest stages. It also allows the dentist to check for possible weaknesses that may be the result of the patient not brushing properly or flossing on a regular basis. The dentist can provide fluoride treatments that protect the teeth from potential problems throughout the year. The hygienist can also give children and young adults pointers on how to improve their oral hygiene and prevent damage caused by allowing sugars to remain in the mouth for long periods of time.
An annual dental visit usually begins with a screening by the hygienist in which she takes notes and tries to determine if the patient is having any issues that need to be addressed. The teeth will be cleaned and plaque deposits removed as needed. The dentist will closely examine both the teeth and the soft tissues to see if there are any abnormalities that need to be addressed. After the dentist has checked the mouth, the hygienist will apply a fluoride treatment and ask the patient if they have any questions. If the dentist has found any abnormality that needs to be corrected, the next appointment will be set at that time. It is important to remember that x-rays are not taken at every visit.
The most common signs of gum disease include pain, discoloration, inflammation, and bleeding. If bleeding occurs when a person brushes their teeth, they should check to see if the gums look healthy at other times. If they are sore and tender to the touch, an infection may be present. Another prominent sign of gum disease is when gums begin to pull away from the teeth or recede, allowing a large portion of the root to appear above the gum line. If any of these symptoms appear and remain for longer than two or three weeks, a patient should make their way to the dentist immediately.
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