Professional Cleanings
Professional cleanings performed by a licensed dentist or hygienist are just as important to your dental health as daily brushing and flossing. Using specialized tools and training, your hygienist or dentist will:

• Remove plaque build-up from the surfaces of teeth. Bacteria in the mouth form plaque, which collects on teeth and causes decay, gum disease, and gingivitis.
• Remove tartar from teeth surfaces. Tartar, or calculus, is plaque that has become so hardened on the teeth that its removal requires special procedures. Tartar below the gum line is also an indication of gum disease.
• Remove surface stains from teeth through polishing.

Examinations
Regular examinations by your dentist help detect and prevent health issues before they become serious. Consistent dental check-ups help catch problems when they are small and easier to treat. Left unattended, small treatable problems become worse and may require more extensive, expensive procedures to repair. Dental examinations generally include the following:

• Gum disease screening
• Oral cancer screening
• Visual tooth decay evaluation
• Visual gum disease examination
• Gum pocket measurement and tracking
• X-ray examination to detect: tooth decay, cysts, tumors, problems below the gums and other hidden issues

Regular examinations by a dentist are very important for your health. Remember, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." –Benjamin Franklin

X-rays (Radiographs)
Dental x-rays are a primary tool for early identification of dental problems. Dentists can detect issues with x-rays before they become problems saving you money in the long run by preventing the need for more extensive, expensive procedures or surgeries. X-rays are primarily used to detect:

• Internal tooth decay
• Cysts (fluid filled sacks at the base of your teeth)
• Tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous
• Impacted teeth
• Teeth that are still coming in

Digital X-rays Advantages
Digital x-rays have several advantages over traditional film based x-rays:

• They emit up to 90% less radiation
• They are ready for examination nearly instantly
• They can be viewed on a computer screen
• Their image can be refined and enlarged
• They are greener; no chemicals are needed for processing

Sealants
Sealants are generally used to help prevent tooth decay on the biting surfaces of back teeth (molars). The natural grooves of these teeth can trap food that can resist casual brushing and rinsing. If left in place, the trapped food allows bacteria to multiply, eventually causing tooth decay and requiring costly attention.

Sealants are painted directly onto the tooth's biting surface where they seal the natural grooves to help prevent tooth decay. While sealants are durable, they are not permanent. They can last up to 5 years of normal wear before needing replacement.

Sealants offer a cost-effective, preventative step to reduce the chances of tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of molars. However, they do not replace the need for regular brushing and flossing.

Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)
Gum disease accounts for approximately 70% of all tooth loss in adults. Early signs of gum disease include bleeding gums when flossing or brushing, and gums that are red, inflamed, or swollen.

Gum disease and tooth decay are caused by the same bacteria. These bacteria form plaque beneath the gum line, which eats away at the bond between tooth and gum. If deterioration is allowed to continue, "pockets" form in between the teeth and the gums. Pockets deeper than 3mm may require special treatment to remove the bacteria and plaque. Without treatment and continuous maintenance, gum disease will eventually weaken the bonds that hold the teeth in place.

There is no permanent treatment for gum disease. However, it can be kept under control with proper personal hygiene and regular visits to a trained dentist or hygienist.
Does a Hard Bristle Toothbrush Get Your Teeth Cleaner?
There are many people who believe that brushing their teeth harder will get them cleaner. This is not true. You want to gently scrub your teeth clean. In fact, if you brush too hard, it can leave your teeth worse off than if you did not brush. Hard bristled toothbrushes can do a lot of damage. You should be using a soft toothbrush instead of one with hard bristles as that is the best way to get your mouth clean and avoid the extra damage.

What Happens When You Use a Toothbrush That Is Too Hard

By using a toothbrush with hard bristles, you risk a lot of damage to your teeth and the tissues in your mouth. Those bristles are meant to gently break up any debris or plaque that has formed on your teeth. If you push too hard, those bristles push their way into the tiny pores of your teeth and can do a lot of damage. What you can actually end up doing is wearing away some of the enamel that protects your teeth. This is something your body works hard to keep on your teeth, and something you definitely want there as it is a main defense against cavities. Also, when you use a toothbrush with really hard bristles, it can also wreak havoc on your gums. This can leave your gums bleeding and sore, potentially causing other issues in your mouth since your gums are constantly in the process of trying to heal.

In order to avoid this type of damage, you want to go with a toothbrush with soft bristles. This helps to clean your teeth without taking off any of the enamel. Plus, the soft bristles also are far more gentle on your gums, leaving them in much better condition when you are done cleaning your mouth. For more information, ask about the type of toothbrush you should use at your next dental exam.

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