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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.
Dry Mouth Can Lead to Long-Term Oral Health Problems
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Saliva performs multiple functions in the mouth. Saliva maintains a neutral pH level, assists in removing food particles, and halts the spread of harmful microorganisms. Dry mouth is a condition where the salivary glands produce very little or no saliva.

Left untreated, dry mouth can cause a variety of short-term as well as long-term oral complications. Most cases of dry mouth can be resolved by drinking more water or by sucking sugar-free candies; instances of dry mouth that are not remedied by these measures will require professional care to fix.

Severe Complications that are Associated with Dry Mouth

Dry mouth creates an oral environment that is ideal for harmful microorganisms to thrive and reproduce. This can lead to the formation of plaque and tartar, the onset of tooth decay, and the beginning of gum disease and gingivitis. The irritated soft tissues in the mouth can form persistent sores. Fungi in the mouth can trigger outbreaks of yeast infections. The difficulties involved in chewing and swallowing can negatively impact the patient's diet, reducing the amount of nutrients that the patient consumes. And dry mouth can complicate or outright prevent the fitting and functionality of dentures.

Contact our office today if you have persistent dry mouth that is not cured with increased water intake or sucking on sugar-free candies. Our team will perform a dental exam and ask you questions about your health history to determine the cause(s) of your dry mouth and develop methods to remedy your instances of dry mouth.

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