Preventing and detecting oral disease begins with routine checkups and cleanings. Many dental issues and conditions can be asymptomatic at their onset. Moreover, several conditions require diagnostic images like X-rays and CT scans for accurate diagnosis.
A dental checkup is very comprehensive. Checkups involve a detailed look at the state of a person’s oral health and basic wellbeing. First, visible oral structures are examined with dental mirrors and handheld instruments. The health of teeth and gums is evaluated along with the appearance of all soft tissue in the mouth such as the linings of the lips and cheeks.
Intraoral cameras can be used as well to take a closer look at tissues difficult to see. Patients will also have X-rays taken to give our team a look at structures that can’t be seen with the naked eye. With diagnostic images like X-rays, we can look at facial bones such as the jaw along with the roots of teeth. Checkups also include screenings for periodontal disease and oral cancer. The glands of the head and neck are examined for swelling and other abnormalities.
In addition to checkups, another important facet of general dentistry is dental cleanings. A dental cleaning can help safeguard your teeth and gums from common disease. Our hygienists utilize handheld instruments to remove debris and polish teeth thoroughly. Receiving regular dental cleanings controls the accumulation of irritating substances like tartar, which contribute to gum disease.
We take dental x-rays as preventative and diagnostic tools. We then use the information provided by this procedure to diagnose and detect problems that may be hidden so that we can help you with an accurate treatment plan.
We will take a full mouth series of dental x-rays for all new patients, and this series is good for three to five years. We will do bite-wing x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together at checkup visits once or twice a year to check for any more dental problems that may have cropped up.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between the teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
We hope that you never have to endure a dental emergency. Fortunately, when emergencies arise, Pekin area residents can count on our team to help them regain their comfort and oral function. In emergency situations, our patients come to us stressed and uncomfortable. Our objective is to increase patient comfort and restore oral health as quickly and efficiently as possible. Common dental emergencies we treat include toothaches, knocked out or broken teeth, and loose restorations. If you have an emergency, be sure to call our practice as soon as possible so that we can make arrangements for your visit. When calling, providing detailed information about the nature of your injury and symptoms is helpful.
We can apply a thin, plastic coating to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and the deep grooves of teeth in order to help protect them from dental decay. Such teeth are hard to clean and are susceptible to decay. The sealant we apply helps to protect the tooth and creates an easy-to-clean surface. They need to be checked for wear and chipping at your regular visits.
As soon as six-year molars come in in children, we should apply a sealant to help protect them. We can also apply sealants to anyone between 6-16 to protect teeth during the most cavity-prone years, adults who have tooth surfaces with grooves or depressions who do not yet have decay, and in some children, we can apply a sealant to baby teeth to help those who are cavity prone. We will thoroughly clean the teeth to be sealed and then dry them. We then use a solution that helps the sealant bond to the teeth, and finally, we paint the material over the enamel surface to cover grooves or depressions.
When we diagnose oral cancer early, it can be effectively treated while still in its earliest stages. Oral cancer begins, often without symptoms, making regular oral cancer exams by a dentist critical.
75% of oral cancers can be prevented by avoiding smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption. If you experience any abnormalities in your tongue, gums, mouth, or the surrounding areas, it’s crucial that a health professional evaluate it as soon as possible. Red patches and sores, a hardened white or gray slightly raised lesion appearing inside the mouth, and lumps should be evaluated by an oral health professional. Our oral cancer examination is a painless process. Our dentist will look for abnormality and feel the face, glands, and neck for unusual bumps. Should we find any abnormalities, we will implement a treatment plan, and if necessary, a biopsy. An oral cancer exam should be performed at least once a year.
Cancer can begin anywhere in your mouth or the surrounding tissue including:
- Salivary Glands
We know that prevention is the best medicine; that’s why we take great measures to take care of your oral health before it becomes a concern. You’ll find that our exams are extremely thorough; we check the health of your gums and teeth, screen for oral cancers, and take care to check our x-rays thoroughly. We also encourage regular cleanings, flossing, sealants, and fluoride treatments. In addition, we take a holistic approach – we’ll review your medical records, new medications, and any illnesses that may affect your overall dental health.
In addition to regular checkups in our office, you should be practicing regular home care routines to prevent gum disease and tooth loss. There are many different oral hygiene aids available on the market today. Here are some of the most common and an explanation of their uses.
Dental Floss – This is the most common between teeth and below the gum cleaner. You can purchase it in a variety of types or flavors. The floss helps to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth. Be aware that vigorous flossing with a holder can cause soft tissue damage and bleed, so take care while flossing twice daily, after brushing.
To safely floss your teeth: Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Interdental Cleaners – Many hygienists and periodontists will recommend you use an interdental brush, available in a variety of shapes and sizes, in addition to dental floss. These are gentle on the gums and extremely effective in cleaning the tooth contours in between gums.
Mouth Rinses – You can purchase two different types of mouth rinses – cosmetic rinses available over the counter to suppress bad breath and therapeutic rinses, which may require a prescription. Many dentists are skeptical about the benefits of cosmetic rinses since studies have shown their effectiveness to be minimal when it comes to combatting plaque. However, therapeutic rinses are regulated by the FDA and can reduce bad breath, plaque, and cavities. Use rinses after brushing.
Oral Irrigators – Water Jets and Waterpiks are intended to spray tiny jet streams of water into gum pockets. This helps to remove bacteria and food particles from the area, but they should not be used instead of brushing and flossing.
Rubber Tip Stimulators – This tool helps to remove plaque from the gum line and to stimulate blood flow to the gums. It should be traced gently along the outer and inner gum line once a day. Any plaque on the tip can be rinsed with tap water. Replace the tip as soon as it appears warn and store in a cool, dry place.
Tongue Cleaners – These can remove the buildup of fungi, food debris, and bacteria from the tongue’s surface. The bacteria and fungi that hang out on the tongue can cause bad breath and are related to systemic diseases. Tongue cleaning should be done before brushing to prevent ingesting this bacteria and fungi.
Toothbrushes – When it comes to toothbrushes, there are many choices. Dentists generally recommend electric toothbrushes because the vibrating motion is more effective than manual brushes at removing plaque and food particles from the gums and teeth. Soft bristle brushes are less damaging to gum tissue, and manual toothbrushes need to be replaced every three months. Brush after every meal, or at least twice a day, to maintain optimal dental health.
To effectively brush your teeth: Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Be sure to rinse your mouth with water after brushing and after any meal you are unable to follow with brushing.
Why should I go to the dentist regularly?
Going to your dentist regularly is important for preventing and detecting common oral health conditions. When you visit your dentist for checkups on a routine basis, you increase the likelihood of dental issues being detected early. In many cases, the sooner problems are detected – the more conservative the treatment.
Dental checkups are very thorough. They include screenings for periodontal disease and oral cancer along with a thorough evaluation of the health of oral tissue like teeth and gums. In addition to checkups, cleanings are a big part of regular visits to the dentist. Dental cleanings help prevent conditions like gum disease and tooth decay because they remove harmful and irritating substances that accumulate on teeth and gums.
How often should I brush and floss?
Brushing and flossing is the foundation of your oral hygiene routine. Both brushing and flossing prevent oral disease because they thwart the development of substances like tartar, which irritates oral tissue. You should brush your teeth twice a day, with one of those brushings preferably occurring near bedtime. When brushing, be sure to brush all sides of each tooth thoroughly and gently. It is essential to floss every day, once per day. Flossing cleans where a toothbrush cannot, between teeth and just beneath the gum line.
How often should I have a cleaning?
Dental cleanings are non-invasive, comfortable treatments that can help prevent the development of disease. You should have two cleanings each year, six months apart. Cleanings remove substances left behind after brushing and flossing. Over time, substances like plaque harden into tartar when exposed to calculus. Tartar can’t be removed with a toothbrush or floss. Instead, professional instruments used by dentists and hygienists are necessary to safely and effectively remove tartar.
Will a tooth extraction hurt?
Many times, patients require extractions because of an existing oral health issue that may or may not cause substantial discomfort. Sometimes patients come to us for tooth extractions because their teeth are infected beyond a salvageable point and must be removed to prevent further complications. Our dentist, Dr. Kuban, provides as comfortable of care as possible. When performing tooth extractions, our guests will receive anesthetic and/or sedating medications as necessary. After treatment, oral function and comfort are restored.