What is the Purpose of a Dental Check-up?
Dental check-ups generally occur twice a year when patients visit the dental office for regularly scheduled cleanings and dental exams. Check-ups allow our dental team at Wetherill Family Dentistry to assess patients’ oral health and make recommendations for preventive care and procedures, such as fillings and extractions, gum treatments, and dental implants.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that adults visit the dentist twice a year. During routine check-ups, Dr. Wetherill thoroughly examines the teeth and gums for cavities, signs of gum disease and gum recession, and other oral health issues, including oral cancer.
Periodic dental X-rays of the entire mouth (“full-mouth X-rays”) are recommended at check-ups every 12 to 24 months for patients with good oral health and those with a low risk of dental disease. If Dr. Wetherill detects possible issues such as cavities, fractured teeth, or signs of dental abscesses or periodontal disease upon visual examination during your check-up, he may need to take additional X-rays for further assessment.
Standard cleanings (also referred to as “dental prophylaxis”) are performed during routine check-ups. During a standard dental cleaning, the hygienist uses a high-powered brush to clean and polish the teeth, along with a hand scaling tool or water scaler to remove light tartar buildup. However, if your initial exam reveals periodontal disease or severe tartar buildup, Dr. Wetherill may hold off on the regular cleaning and recommend a scaling and root planing procedure or a debridement. When debridement is required, Dr. Wetherill will also delay conducting a thorough exam until after the procedure.
Scaling and root planing is a procedure that removes calculus and tartar below the gumline, while full mouth debridement treatments remove heavy tartar buildup on the tooth surfaces. Your dental professionals at Wetherill Family Dentistry perform both procedures with special scaling tools specifically designed to remove hardened tartar and calculus. While specific dental protocols can vary, regular cleanings usually cease when either of these issues is detected.
Tartar buildup beneath the gum line and symptoms such as swollen or bleeding gums indicate an active infection, and a standard cleaning may stir up bacteria that can enter the bloodstream. When a patient in Wilmington has severe tartar on their tooth surfaces above the gum line, a debridement procedure must be performed prior to a thorough exam and cleaning, as the buildup hinders Dr. Wetherill’s ability to evaluate the teeth and oral tissues adequately.
If Dr. Wetherill gives you the all-clear following your dental exam and cleaning, the next step is to schedule a follow-up appointment in approximately six months. In the event that additional treatments are required, your follow-up appointments should be scheduled based on our dental team’s instructions.
If Dr. Wetherill detects an active tooth infection during your exam, he may prescribe antibiotics to prevent the bacteria from spreading to surrounding teeth and tissues. It’s important to follow all home care instructions and return for your follow-up procedures as recommended to prevent additional issues or complications.
Benefits of Dental Check-ups
Visiting Dr. Wetherill twice a year is essential to maintaining optimal oral health. Regular cleanings are beneficial in keeping tartar and plaque at bay, while periodic dental exams ensure that potential oral health issues are assessed and treated in a timely fashion.
How to Schedule Your Dental Check-Up
Our dental team is available to help you schedule an appointment for a check-up. Contact our office today and we will look forward to seeing you soon!