Dental Hygiene – Dental Check ups, Teeth Cleaning and Home Care

Regular dental check ups and cleaning allow your dentist to diagnose problems early. Early intervention leads to less costly treatment and healthier teeth and gums. When you attend for a dental check up, your dentist will check all your teeth for tooth decay, wear and cracking. Your existing fillings, crowns bridges and implants will be checked to ensure they are still functional and that there is no breakdown or decay. Untreated tooth decay, not only spreads within the tooth that has a cavity, but can also spread to multiple other teeth in your mouth.

Your gums will then be screened for any signs of gum disease, such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Gum disease can be painless and affect all teeth in your mouth at once, so early diagnosis and intervention is crucial. If there are any changes to your oral hygiene habits needed, your dentist will discuss these with you. For most people, brushing twice daily, flossing at least once a day and using a mouthwash should be sufficient to maintain healthy gums. Home maintenance is your best defence against gingivitis, so if you notice bleeding from your gums, make sure to book an appointment for your check up or dental hygiene visit.

The cleaning process uses an ultrasonic cleaner to scale and clean the teeth. The vibration from the scaler knocks the plaque and tartar off the teeth. The water keeps it cool and helps to wash the debris away. The teeth are then polished with a prophylaxis paste. This is often called scaling and cleaning. After cleaning the plaque and tartar from your teeth, your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment to help protect your teeth from dental decay and cavities. This is particularly beneficial for children and those at high risk of dental decay. If you are at high risk of tooth decay, it is important that you not only attend for dental treatment, but that you make dietary changes to ensure you do not continue to get more and more decay. Ending the cycle and stabilising your dental problems is the whole point of early intervention.

Dental x-rays allow diagnosis of decay and other problems which cannot be visualised from looking directly in the mouth. Due to the radiation exposure, these are not done at every visit but usually every 2 years, to get the maximum benefit while keeping the risk as low as possible. Dental x-rays are recommended more often for those at high risk of decay. Your dentist will also be able to advise if additional x-rays are recommended to investigate any problems identified when checking your teeth visually and with magnification. The use of digital intra-oral cameras allows us to take photographic images of your teeth to monitor decay, investigate cracks and also to show you these findings.

During your examination, your dentist will also examine your soft tissues for an oral cancer screening. Your TMJ jaw joint and your muscles will be examined for any problems related to bruxism, or tooth grinding. After examination of all the soft tissues, gums, teeth, muscles, joints and discussion of your personal habits, you can be confident that a thorough examination and assessment of your dental health has been completed. You will be advised on any dental treatment that is needed urgently, any dental treatment that is recommended to prevent progression and may even be offered optional treatments to minimise your risk of developing dental problems in the future.

How Much does a check up cost?

A standard check, with a scale and polish and fluoride treatment is $225. This may be more if you need xrays or if intraoral photos are recommended. We run special offers all the time. All our frequent dental fees are listed, so there are no surprises. We accept all major credit cards and HICAPS to claim directly from your health fund. For some funds we can even check on the prices of quotes before your return for treatment (HICAPS Quoatation function). Ask our friendly staff for more details.

How often should I get a dental check up?

The average person should get a check up and teeth cleaning every 6 months. If you are at low risk your dentist may recommend annual check ups or sometimes every 2 years. For some people at high risk and those who suffer from periodontitis, a form of gum disease, checkint the gums and teeth cleaning every 3 months is recommended. As a general rule, book your check up every 6 months, unless advised otherwise by your dentist. At Darlinghurst Dental, we send reminders to our patients when their check up is due. You can choose to receive your check-up reminder by post, email, phone or SMS.

What should I do at home to take care of my teeth?

Home care is essential to keeping the teeth clean and free of dental disease. Physically cleaning the teeth is most important. That is why brushing and flossing are crucial. It is recommended to brush twice per day, morning and evening using a toothpaste which contains fluoride. Flossing once a day is sufficient, but twice a day is even better. If you have difficulty flossing, or have gaps between your teeth. Interdental brushes can be used to clean between the teeth. Mouthwash is beneficial, but not essential. Mouthwash can be used twice per day after brushing.

You should avoid brushing after acidic foods or drinks as brushing hard may damage the weakened enamel. After 30-60 minutes, it is fine to brush again. It is controversial as to whether it is best to rinse thoroughly. Using special products to compensate for your individual risk can help. If your decay risk is higher, you can use products with fluoride. If you are at risk of gum disease, there are special toothpastes and mouthwashes for it. If you get a lot of tartar, use an anti-tartar toothpaste. If there is a specific toothpaste that would be good for you, your dentist will recommend it.