Professional dental cleanings can make your teeth feel great, no question about it. But your dentist is doing much more than just cleaning with those shiny tools. They’re constantly looking for trouble spots, warning signs, and areas of concern. Here are just a few of the ways cleanings do double-duty as your dental exams as well.
- Sensitivity and Bleeding. Let’s be honest, the dentist is poking around in your mouth with a sharp metal hook — like it or not, a tiny amount of bleeding may be a normal part of every exam. What your dentist is really looking for during your dental exams are areas that bleed more than normal, or more easily than others. Sensitivity can be much harder for your dentist to detect, so be sure to tell them when you’re uncomfortable.
- How Well You Brush. Your dental exams are when all your bad brushing habits are revealed. Your dentist will know how much attention you’ve given the inside surfaces of your teeth (the sides your tongue rests against), as well as how regularly you’ve been flossing. Don’t take their criticisms personally. This is information you need to know if you want to avoid things like cavities and small cities of harmful bacteria in the plains and valleys of your enamel.
- Whatever You Tell Them to Look For. If there’s something you’ve been worried about, for goodness’ sake,ask about it. Mind-reading is not part of the standard curriculum in dental schools. It can be anything on your mind — better brushing techniques, cosmetic dentistry, discolorations, braces… Your dentist would much prefer you ask those questions in the office rather than calling their home number in the middle of the night.
Your cleanings are about so much more than giving you that “fresh from the dentist” feel. It’s about examination and prevention. It’s up to you to communicate with your dentist. Or as much as you can, anyway, with a pick and a little mirror in your mouth.