Brushing and flossing are both important habits to keep to maintain good oral health. The last step to enjoying healthy teeth and gums is making regular visits to your dentist for a dental exam and cleaning. At West Willow Family Dental, we recommend two visits a year (about every six months) to our office in Wheaton, IL.
Though brushing and flossing are integral to clean and healthy teeth and gums, they are not enough to keep bacteria away. Even if you brush twice a day as recommended, there will be areas that are difficult for you to reach. Plaque can collect in those areas (such as in the back of the mouth) and allow bacteria to feed and produce acids that attack the teeth and gums. This is how cavities form and how gum disease develops. Only a dental professional will be able to access these areas and get them clean through routine cleaning. These visits are also opportunities for your dentist to perform an exam and detect potential problems that may be developing before they reach a more advanced stage that could be difficult to treat.
A dental exam is the time for your dentist to evaluate the overall health of your teeth, gums, and mouth in general. He or she will check for signs of cavities and the development of gum disease. X-rays are usually taken once a year.
A hygienist usually performs the dental cleaning portion of your visit. First, he or she will remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth using special dental tools such as a scaler. Then, your hygienist will brush your teeth with a high-powered electric toothbrush and special toothpaste. This toothpaste differs from the one you use at home because it has a grittier consistency that is good for scrubbing your teeth thoroughly and polishing them. Thorough flossing follows the brushing, and the cleaning is completed with a rinse to remove any remaining traces of debris.