Cleaning and Prevention
Timber Dental uses high-tech, low-radiation digital x-rays to take pictures of your teeth. These pictures are used to check for tooth decay that cannot be seen with the naked eye, to check the health of teeth roots and the bone that surrounds them, and to screen for cysts, tumors and other abnormalities. As a new patient, we will likely take a full series of x-rays (18 pictures) so we have a complete representation of your mouth. Once per year, at your follow up visits, we may take a few more pictures to make sure there are no new cavities forming.
Digital x-rays are quick and fairly easy. A small, thin sensor is placed next to your tooth. Then, we line up our special camera and take the picture. Within a few seconds, the picture will pop right up on the computer screen–no waiting or film development required. During your x-rays, you will wear a special lead blanket to prevent the rest of your body from being exposed to excess radiation. You will not be able to have anyone else in the room, including children, while x-rays are being taken.
Excellent oral health involves more than just looking at your teeth. During your exams, Dr. Matt will examine the outside of your head and neck first. He will evaluate your TMJ joint, your facial muscles, lymph nodes, and salivary glands and feel for any lumps or bumps that don’t belong. Moving to the inside of your mouth, Dr. Matt will examine your lips and all the soft tissues of your mouth, including your cheeks, gums, palate, tonsils, tongue and the floor of your mouth, screening you for oral cancer. If anything is found to appear abnormal or suspicious, you may be asked to visit an oral surgeon for a biopsy of the tissue.
Next, Dr. Matt will evaluate your bite and the way your teeth fit together. If he sees any problems here, he may talk with you about having an orthodontic evaluation for aligning your teeth. While looking at the teeth, any of your existing restorations will be charted, as well as any sign of tooth decay.
Finally, Dr. Matt will check out your gums and your jaw bones; these structures are the foundation of your mouth. He will measure your “gum pockets,”–the space between your tooth and gum–using a small ruler called a “probe.” This indicates the health of the gums and bones. Measurements of 1-3mm without bleeding are a sign of good gum health. When numbers are 4mm or higher, there is often gum disease present. This may require a special cleaning procedure.
With all the information that is gathered from the exam, Dr. Matt will diagnose any treatment needed, as well as what type of cleaning you need. He will customize a treatment plan to meet your oral health goals and your financial needs.
Even with the best possible oral care at home, it is important to visit Timber Dental for regular professional teeth cleaning. This cleaning will remove any sticky plaque or hard, built-up tartar that can’t be cleaned by brushing and flossing alone. Additionally, any surface stains from food, dark beverages, and smoking can be removed from your teeth, brightening your smile instantly. Your dentist or hygienist will give you some tips and pointers on how to best keep a clean, healthy mouth.
At Timber Dental, most cleanings involve the use of an ultrasonic scaler to easily remove the buildup from your teeth without all that scraping. This scaler also uses high-powered water flow to flush out your gum pockets, ridding them of harmful bacteria or sick gum tissue. Our cleaning will leave you with that fresh feeling that lasts and lasts.
Topical fluoride is an excellent preventative treatment for most children and adults to strengthen their outer tooth structure, called enamel. For a person with a high risk of cavities, a topical fluoride treatment may especially be recommended. With this simple treatment, a highly-concentrated fluoride solution is painted onto the teeth. It clings there for about 12 hours and strengthens the surface of the tooth. A stronger coating of enamel will help prevent future cavities, and can also slow down cavity formation on teeth that may already be affected.
Sealants are a simple procedure to prevent cavities from forming on the chewing surface of your teeth. Excellent for kids and adults alike, a sealant is a thin layer of tooth-colored resin that is flowed onto the chewing surface of the tooth, sealing off all those deep grooves and hard to clean areas of your teeth. We harden the resin by shining a high powered LED light on the tooth. The procedure is quick, painless, and does not require numbing. Your sealants may have to be replaced after a few years, but this is a simple way to help prevent cavities.
If Dr. Matt diagnoses you with gum disease, a very specialized cleaning treatment will be required. Gum disease occurs when tarter builds up on the root of a tooth beneath the line of the gum. The tarter attaches to the root like a barnacle to a rock and it is very difficult to remove. Because this tarter is too deep to reach with a toothbrush, it will continue to build up under the gums, and often causes a bad odor. The tarter is abrasive, and harbors a harmful type of bacteria which causes the gums and bones to pull back and drop away from the tooth, creating deep “pockets” that may measure 4mm or higher. If left untreated, the disease would continue to progress, and can eventually lead to tooth loss.
To treat this chronic disease, we use a procedure called scaling and root planning. You will be numbed for the cleaning to keep you comfortable. Usually we will clean half of your mouth at one appointment, and have you return a few days later for the second half to avoid too much numbing at one time. Your teeth and roots will be thoroughly cleaned and left glassy smooth. We will recommend a special mouthwash to help your gums heal. Over the next four weeks, your gums will be able to reattach to the root surface, eliminating the unhealthy gum pockets.
After four weeks, we will re-measure your gums to confirm the desired healing has occurred. In more severe cases, you may be referred to a specialist for follow-up treatment. Regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial to maintaining good periodontal health. Your dentist or hygienist may recommend cleanings more often to avoid relapse or progression of periodontal disease.