Ask Your Dentist These Questions at Your Next Cleaning

Routine dental cleanings are an essential part of maintaining good oral health. These twice-yearly cleanings eliminate debris, plaque, tartar (below the gumline), and biofilm (a thin film of bacteria) that at-home brushing and flossing alone can’t do.

At Supertooth® Dental Group, our experienced team of dentists and technicians believes in the importance of cleanings and welcomes the opportunity to include you in your care plan by answering your questions about proper dental care. Not sure what to ask? Here are some good places to start.

Questions to ask at your cleaning

A professional dental cleaning is a great time to ask questions related to your oral health. Here are a number of questions you might want to raise.

Is my oral hygiene routine effective?

A professional cleaning removes any debris and plaque build-up, especially if it’s hardened into tartar below the gumline, where your toothbrush can’t reach. The dentist will be able to tell how well your routine is working by looking at the amount of material that has to be removed.

Despite a lifetime of brushing, the fact is, many adults don’t brush correctly, even if they do it twice a day. If your mouth isn’t up to spec, the dentist can provide a quick refresher in brushing and flossing techniques that will prevent the amount of buildup you now have. That includes  the angle at which to hold the brush, how to cut off the right amount of floss, and how much time to spend cleaning each tooth.

Do I have gum disease?

Gum disease affects millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, it often goes undetected in its early stages because it doesn’t produce many symptoms.

The early stage of gum (periodontal) disease is called gingivitis. You may notice that your gums are tender, swollen, and slightly red. You may also find some blood on the toothbrush or floss as the tissues become more irritated. If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with our office. The earlier gum disease is treated, the better the outcome.

The hygienist will be able to detect gingivitis on their inspection of your mouth and will report this to the dentist. Then, either they or the dentist can show you what to do to prevent the disease from progressing, and hopefully, reverse the current issue.

I have a (pain, sensation, or discoloration): What does it mean?

Pain in your teeth or gums is never a good thing, but odd sensations or discoloration can come from many different sources, some of which are innocuous. For example, tooth discoloration may well come from what you eat and drink, and the stains can be removed with a teeth- whitening treatment.

Always make it a point, though, to bring these things up at your cleaning appointment, as it’s a time when the staff is looking at the “big picture” of your oral health.

What type of toothbrush and toothpaste should I use?

The devil’s in the details. While toothpaste type may seem a trivial question to ask, it’s important to your overall dental health. Toothpaste should always contain fluoride, a mineral that makes teeth strong. You can tell if a toothpaste contains it if you see the American Dental Association’s Seal of Approval on the box. If your teeth are sensitive, though, you may need a fluoride-containing paste that’s gentler on your gums than some others.

The same is true for a toothbrush. There are so many varieties, how can you know what’s good for you? Well, one thing you can look for is a soft-bristled brush. Hard-bristled versions certainly get the job done, and may even help with removing stains, but they can easily irritate your gums, especially if you brush too hard. See what your dentist recommends and try to adapt to it.

Should I use a mouthwash?

Mouthwashes are generally marketed to “freshen your breath”; they don’t address other oral health concerns. Fluoride or antiseptic rinses, though, are used therapeutically. A fluoride rinse can help remineralize your teeth and keep them strong. An antiseptic rinse helps control harmful bacteria and plaque buildup.

Ask your dentist which brand they prefer, as some harsher rinses can lead to root sensitivity, mouth sores, or numbness.

How often should I have my teeth professionally cleaned?

The general “rule” is that you should have your teeth professionally cleaned twice yearly, but that doesn’t cover everyone. If you have braces, or if you’re pregnant, you may want to come in more frequently to make sure everything is OK. The dentist can advise you of the best course of action.

Have more questions? We’d love to hear them. Call Supertooth™ Dental Group to learn more about oral health, or book an appointment online. We have offices in Bethesda, Germantown, and Gaitherburg, Maryland.

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