Cleanings & Prevention

Cleanings & Preventions

Preventing dental disease for your family starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. At our Kissimmee Family Dentistry office, we’ll help you and boost your efforts in the dental office with the latest knowledge, technology, and treatments to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health—and your gorgeous smile!

Preventative care here at Affinity Dental includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and X-rays. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect your teeth.

Avoid serious and costly dental problems down the line with a mutual plan for preventative care. It’s the key to having a healthy, confident & beautiful smile!

Simple Tooth Extractions

If you are experiencing extreme sensitivity or are suffering from advanced periodontal disease, you may be required to have a tooth extracted.  With a simple extraction, the dentist can safely remove the affected tooth without the need for major surgery.

Reasons for a tooth extraction

There are numerous situations in which a simple extraction can help alleviate pain or prepare you for another cosmetic or restorative procedure.

Some common reasons for extraction include:

  • Advanced periodontal disease that has loosened the tooth roots
  • Extra teeth or baby teeth that impede adult teeth
  • Preparing a patient for orthodontic treatment
  • Removing a fractured or malformed tooth
  • Severe tooth decay which cannot be remedied with root canal therapy

How is a tooth extracted?

As a precaution, the dentist will first take X-rays of the tooth or teeth in question, to help plan the procedure.  After preparing a method of extraction, you will be given a local anesthetic that will prevent you from feeling pain during the procedure.  Next, the dentist will use a tool called an elevator to lift the tooth and loosen ligaments and gum tissue around the base of the tooth.  Finally, the dentist will use a pair of forceps, to gently rock the tooth back and forth until it breaks free of the ligaments holding it in the gum tissue.  Occasionally, a stubborn tooth will resist the dentist’s soft tug, refusing to come out.  In these and more complex cases, the tooth may need to be broken up into smaller pieces for removal.

Once removed, we will pack gauze into the socket and have you place pressure on the area by biting down.  If necessary, the dentist will place stitches to close the socket.

If you are sick the week prior to your scheduled extraction or on the day of, please contact our Kissimmee Family Dentistry office, as alternative arrangements may need to be made.  Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Dental Exam

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit.

At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will perform the following:

  • Examination of diagnostic X-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.  X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists.

Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:

  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface.  Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth.  It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva.  The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums.  This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Prophylaxis (Teeth Cleaning)

A dental prophylaxis is a cleaning procedure performed to thoroughly clean the teeth. Prophylaxis is an important dental treatment for halting the progression of periodontal disease and gingivitis.

Periodontal disease and gingivitis occur when bacteria from plaque colonize on the gingival (gum) tissue – either above or below the gum line. These bacteria colonies cause serious inflammation and irritation which in turn produce a chronic inflammatory response in the body. As a result, the body begins to systematically destroy gum and bone tissue, making the teeth shift, become unstable, or completely fall out. The pockets between the gums and teeth become deeper and house more bacteria which may travel via the bloodstream and infect other parts of the body.

Reasons for prophylaxis/teeth cleaning

Prophylaxis is an excellent procedure to help keep the oral cavity in good health and also halt the progression of gum disease.

Here are some of the benefits of prophylaxis:

  • Tartar removal – Tartar (calculus) and plaque buildup, both above and below the gum line, can cause serious periodontal problems if left untreated. Even using the best brushing and flossing homecare techniques, it can be impossible to remove debris, bacteria and deposits from gum pockets. The experienced eye of a dentist using specialized dental equipment is needed in order to spot and treat problems such as tartar and plaque buildup.
  • Aesthetics – It’s hard to feel confident about a smile marred by yellowing, stained teeth. Prophylaxis can rid the teeth of unsightly stains and return the smile to its former glory.
  • Fresher breath – Periodontal disease is often signified by persistent bad breath (halitosis). Bad breath is generally caused by a combination of rotting food particles below the gum line, possible gangrene stemming from gum infection, and periodontal problems. The removal of plaque, calculus and bacteria noticeably improves breath and alleviates irritation.
  • Identification of health issues – Many health problems first present themselves to the dentist. Since prophylaxis involves a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity, the dentist is able to screen for oral cancer, evaluate the risk of periodontitis and often spot signs of medical problems like diabetes and kidney problems. Recommendations can also be provided for altering the home care regimen.

What does prophylaxis treatment involve?

Prophylaxis can either be performed in the course of a regular dental visit or, if necessary, under general anesthetic. The latter is particularly common where severe periodontal disease is suspected or has been diagnosed by the dentist. An endotracheal tube is sometimes placed in the throat to protect the lungs from harmful bacteria which will be removed from the mouth.

Prophylaxis is generally performed in several stages:

  1. Supragingival cleaning – The dentist will thoroughly clean the area above the gum line with scaling tools to rid them of plaque and calculus.
  2. Subgingival cleaning – This is the most important step for patients with periodontal disease because the dentist is able to remove calculus from the gum pockets and beneath the gum line.
  3. Root planing – This is the smoothing of the tooth root by the dentist to eliminate any remaining bacteria. These bacteria are extremely dangerous to periodontitis sufferers, so eliminating them is one of the top priorities of the dentist.
  4. Medication – Following scaling and root planing, an antibiotic or antimicrobial cream is often placed in the gum pockets. These creams promote fast and healthy healing in the pockets and help ease discomfort.
  5. X-ray and examination – Routine X-rays can be extremely revealing when it comes to periodontal disease. X-rays show the extent of bone and gum recession and also aid the dentist in identifying areas which may need future attention.Prophylaxis is recommended twice annually as a preventative measure but should be performed every 3-4 months on periodontitis sufferers. Though gum disease cannot be completely reversed, prophylaxis is one of the tools the dentist can use to effectively halt its destructive progress.If you have questions or concerns about prophylaxis or periodontal disease, please contact our practice.

Dental X-Rays

Dental radiographs (X-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without X-rays, problem areas may go undetected.

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.

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!

Are dental X-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of X-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.

Dental X-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental X-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each X-ray.

How often should dental X-rays be taken?

The need for dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.

A full mouth series of dental X-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing X-rays (X-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.

Fluoride Treatment

Home Care

A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients.  Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal.  Your personal home care starts by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.

Tooth brushing

Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

  1. 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.
  2. Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  3. Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
  4. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended.  They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently.  Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline.  Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, but it also disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

  1. 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.
  2. Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  3. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gumline.  Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Rinsing

It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing and after meals if you are unable to brush.  If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist:  interdental brushes, rubber tip stimulators, tongue cleaners, irrigation devices, fluoride, medicated rinses, etc., can all play a role in good dental home care.

How to Prevent Cavities

Oral Cancer Exam

According to research conducted by the American Cancer Society, more than 30,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed each year.  More than 7,000 of these cases result in the death of the patient.  The good news is that oral cancer can easily be diagnosed with an annual oral cancer exam, and effectively treated when caught in its earliest stages.

Oral cancer is a pathologic process which begins with an asymptomatic stage during which the usual cancer signs may not be readily noticeable.  This makes the oral cancer examinations performed by the dentist critically important.  Oral cancers can be of varied histologic types such as teratoma, adenocarcinoma, and melanoma.  The most common type of oral cancer is the malignant squamous cell carcinoma.  This oral cancer type usually originates in lip and mouth tissues.

There are many different places in the oral cavity and maxillofacial region in which oral cancers commonly occur, including:

  • Lips
  • Mouth
  • Tongue
  • Salivary Glands
  • Oropharyngeal Region (throat)
  • Gums
  • Face

Reasons for oral cancer examinations

It is important to note that around 75 percent of oral cancers are linked with modifiable behaviors such as smoking, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption.  Your dentist can provide literature and education on making lifestyle changes and smoking cessation.

Sealants

Fluoride

Fluorine, a natural element in the fluoride compound, has proven to be effective in minimizing childhood cavities and tooth decay.  Fluoride is a key ingredient in many popular brands of toothpaste, oral gel, and mouthwash, and can also be found in most community water supplies.  Though fluoride is an important part of any good oral care routine, overconsumption can result in a condition known as fluorosis.  The pediatric dentist is able to monitor fluoride levels, and check that children are receiving the appropriate amount.

How can fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride fulfills two important dental functions.  First, it helps staunch mineral loss from tooth enamel, and second, it promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel.

When carbohydrates (sugars) are consumed, oral bacteria feed on them and produce harmful acids.  These acids attack tooth enamel – especially in children who take medications or produce less saliva.  Repeated acid attacks result in cavities, tooth decay, and childhood periodontal disease.  Fluoride protects tooth enamel from acid attacks and reduces the risk of childhood tooth decay.

Fluoride is especially effective when used as part of a good oral hygiene regimen.  Reducing the consumption of sugary foods, brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting the pediatric dentist biannually, all supplement the work of fluoride and keep young teeth healthy.