Here's What Your Dentist Is Looking for During Your Exam and Cleaning

Regular brushing and flossing are essential, but even if you devote yourself to excellent at-home dental care, getting your teeth cleaned professionally is important. Visiting a dentist twice a year helps guard against cavities, gum disease, and other health concerns. 

At Hudson River Dental Arts, our dedicated professionals commit themselves to assist you in maintaining your oral health. Our team, led by Dr. Jennifer Sunkin, can provide routine cleanings and exams that act as your first line of defense against oral issues. Preventive care can keep you from developing serious dental problems down the road.  

What happens during a dental cleaning and exam? 

Using a metal tool, your dental hygienist scrapes off stubborn plaque or tartar buildup and also flosses between your teeth. Then your teeth are cleaned with a professional-grade spinning toothbrush. Depending on your needs, we may provide an in-office fluoride treatment that helps prevents cavities. X-rays may be taken to get a better look at your teeth and their roots. 

After your cleaning, Dr. Sunkin examines your teeth and gums. She checks for issues that could potentially be problematic, such as cavities, cracks in your teeth, or issues with previous dental work. 

She also assesses your oral soft tissues, including your tongue and gums. Gums that are inflamed or bleeding excessively could signal gingivitis, the start of periodontal disease. If you need any further work, Dr. Sunkin discusses this with you so you can make another appointment.    

Here’s a closer look at what Dr. Sunkin looks for when she assesses your oral health:

Signs of decay, infection, or damage 

Harmful bacteria that are left behind after at-home brushing can cause serious health complications. Dr. Sunkin checks for signs of infection in your teeth and soft tissues, especially your gums. Swelling or bleeding at the gumline when you brush or have a dental cleaning can be the start of gum disease. 

The harmful bacteria from your mouth can also enter your bloodstream, and have been linked to other health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive impairments.

Dr. Sunkin may probe your molars with an instrument that helps her check for cavities. If it’s time to take dental X-rays, she uses them to look for any undetected problems in your teeth or their roots, such as tiny cracks or the start of decay. 

Issues with prior dental work

If you’ve had restorative dental work done in the past, like fillings, crowns, or cosmetic services, these may need some upkeep. When she examines your mouth, Dr. Sunkin checks for anything that may be amiss, such as loose fillings, tiny cracks in crowns, chipped veneers, or problems with bridges or dentures. She may ask you about tooth sensitivity to help with her assessment. 

Soft tissue problems

You may notice that Dr. Sunkin asks you to lift your tongue so she can look at the sides and underneath it. She also looks at your lips, cheeks, and other oral mucosa to check for any kind of ulcers or growths that may be precancerous. She may feel your jawline and your neck as well to check for any lumps or swelling. 

Having a cleaning and dental exam at your 6-month checkup is a critical piece in your preventive health care puzzle. If you’re looking to schedule your next visit, call our office in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, or book an appointment online.                   

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