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clean1Did you know that your mouth is like a car? It needs to be maintained routinely. Waiting for a toothache or years between cleanings only creates more dental problems and subsequent financial costs. At each visit, a comprehensive dental health exam is performed with Dr. Steve S. Kim. During this exam, Dr. Kim will check each of your teeth for any changes. In addition, Dr. Kim will also check the inside and outside of your mouth for any signs of diseases or other visible problems. Cleanings include the removal of plaque and calculus. Plaque is a biofilm that is composed of millions of bacteria. It is generally soft, sticky and colored white or yellow. Plaque is removed daily by proper brushing and flossing and is formed continuously in our mouths on all areas of our teeth including the areas beneath the gum line. When plaque hardens, it is called calculus or tartar. Calculus or tartar is formed when minerals from our mouth (saliva) mix with plaque to harden it.

Calculus or tartar cannot be removed with regular brushing from a toothbrush or with regular floss. his form of bacteria is too hard to be removed by the patient and needs to be professionally removed with special tools called scalars by a hygienist or dentist. The removal process of plaque is called root planning and scaling. Not removing tartar is the number one reason patients develop gum disease. The millions of bacteria that make up tartar infect the gums (soft tissue) causing redness and bleeding. Bleeding of gums is the most common way to identify gum disease; however, any patients do not pay too much attention to a small amount of blood and write it off. There should be no bleeding when brushing and flossing. If plaque is left, gum disease will continue to progress and worsen. Eventually, the bacterial will destroy the bones surrounding the tooth and this results in tooth loss. A periodontal evaluation may also be done by the doctor or the hygienist at the time of the patient’s cleaning appointment. A periodontal evaluation is when the hygienist or the dentist uses a probe to measure the depth of the gum tissue.

The probe is a small instrument with small millimeter markings along its length. It is inserted between each tooth and the gum and measured for how deep it can be inserted. The space between the gum and tooth is called a pocket. Healthy gums are tight and don’t have a lot of separation between the gums and teeth. Healthy gums measure between 2mm-3mm. Gums that have light or moderate “pocket” depths at 4mm are at risk of gum disease. Pocket depths at 5mm and more are considered to have active gum disease and treatment is recommended to reduce pocket depths as soon as possible. Delaying any treatment for pocket depths 5mm or more may cause loss of teeth and loss of bone. Signs of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease It is important to learn and recognize the signs of both tooth decay and gum disease. If you know the signs, you can alert Dr. Steve Kim and his staff of any problems. Below, we will go over some of the symptoms to help you quickly determine if there may be a problem.

Signs of Tooth Decay

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Toothaches
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Black, brown, gray, or white spots on the teeth
  • Swelling near a tooth
  • Soreness, redness, or inflammation near a tooth

Signs of Gum Disease

  • Tender, swollen, and red gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Loss of teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Abscesses and pus between the gums and teeth
  • Gums that bleed

If you have any of the above signs, it is important that you alert us. Unfortunately, many adults live with gum disease and they never even know they have it until they lose a tooth or until it has progressed to a point where they are in pain and need immediate care. Gum disease can be a silent disease and the longer it is allowed to progress, the worse the symptoms become. Once you have passed over the gingivitis threshold and you have entered the periodontitis threshold, Dr. Steve Kim will need to be aggressive with treatment to stop the disease in its tracks. What to Expect at Your Cleaning When you first arrive at our office for cleaning, you will be taken to have x-rays performed.

clean3These x-rays allow the dentist to see your teeth at a deeper level and not just on the surface. For example, if you have a decaying tooth, we will be able to see exactly where the decay is and whether or not it is touching any other teeth simply by looking at the x-ray. Once the x-rays are completed, you will be taken into a room to have your teeth cleaned. During the cleaning, you can expect the dental hygienist to brush, floss, and buff your teeth to remove any plaque or buildup on them. After your cleaning is performed, the dentist will come into the room and look at each individual tooth to check for decay or any signs of oral cancer.

If he or she notices any areas of concern, he or she will work out a treatment plan with you to correct the situation. If it is determined that you have gum disease, your dentist will refer you to a periodontist to further examine and treat your teeth. Talk to Your Dentist about Your Dental Care Routine cleanings are important and you must have them performed every six months or more depending on the recommendation of your dental care provider. If you are afraid of going to the dentist because your teeth are decayed or hurt, stop putting it off. Your dentist, Dr. Steve Kim is used to seeing these dental problems and can provide you with the care you need to correct your smile and keep you pain free.

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