According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the average person should get their teeth professionally cleaned by a dentist at least twice a year. Dental cleanings at Chestnut Family Dentistry enable Dr. Wendy Willoughby, DDS to reinforce the home cleaning done by the patient and to examine the patient’s teeth, gums and jaws for signs of serious problems.
What Do Dental Cleanings Involve?
Dental cleanings can involve a mix of preventive, diagnostic and educational services. Preventive services can include the following:
• Using probes to remove tartar and plaque
• Applying fluoride
• Adjusting and cleaning dentures and partial dentures
• Polishing teeth and crowns
Diagnostic services can include the following:
• Taking X-rays of teeth and jaws
• Examining teeth for signs of decay
• Reviewing and updating medical history
• Examining gum tissue for signs of disease
• Screening for oral cancer
Educational services can include the following:
• Teaching the patient how to properly brush and floss the teeth
• Advising the patient about their diet
• Explaining different treatments
• Advising the patient how to stop using tobacco products
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, is the earliest stage of gum disease. If caught early, it is easy to treat. Gingivitis is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth and gums.
The best-known symptom of gingivitis is swollen, tender and red gums that might bleed when the patient brushes their teeth. Gingivitis can cause pockets to form between the gums and teeth, where food and debris can get trapped. As the disease progresses, the gums recede and make the teeth appear unusually long. Some patients also develop bad breath or a bad taste in their mouth.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums that has spread to neighboring tissues. Many of the symptoms, like tender gums that bleed easily, are similar to those of gingivitis. Symptoms peculiar to periodontitis include loose teeth, pus between the gums and teeth, changes in the patient’s bite and purplish or bright red gums.
Research indicates that periodontitis is linked to other serious health problems, like stroke, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists believe that the bacteria that cause periodontitis can spread throughout the body and cause damage to other organs and tissues. For example, if the bacteria reach the arteries, they can cause an inflammation that makes the arteries narrow and, thus, increase the risk of heart attack.
What is Oral Cancer?
All cancers are caused by a mass of cells that grow uncontrollably and invade other tissues. Oral cancer describes a cancer that begins in the mouth, lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, sinuses or hard and soft palate. It typically takes the form of a sore or growth that does not go away. If not diagnosed and treated early, oral cancer can kill. Other symptoms of oral cancer can include the following:
• Velvety white, red or speckled patches in the mouth
• Unexplained bleeding from the mouth
• Sores on the face or neck that bleed easily and last longer than two weeks
• Lumps or bumps anywhere in or near the oral cavity
• A sore throat and/or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
• A change in the patient’s voice
• Pain around the ears, neck or oral cavity
All of the above conditions can be easily detected during routine dental cleanings at our office. However, it is not possible for these issues to be corrected if they are not detected. We highly encourage you to schedule a dental cleaning at Chestnut Family Dentistry in Asheville to make sure that your oral health is at its absolute best. Contact us today to book your appointment.