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My First Check-Up

Professionals who will treat you — Two oral health care professionals – your dentist and the dental hygienist – will likely see you. The hygienist will conduct an initial oral exam of your gums and teeth, document any changes in your overall health and medicine use, clean and polish your teeth, talk to you about caring for your teeth and gums, and answer any questions you might have about home care products. Your dentist will also conduct an oral exam of your mouth (for signs of oral cancer or other diseases), gums, and teeth; ask about changes in your overall health or medicine use; review the cleaning done by the hygienist; diagnose any oral health problems; and make treatment recommendations.

Cleaning — Although home-based tooth brushing and flossing help remove plaque, only a professional cleaning – provided by your dentist or dental hygienist – can thoroughly clean your teeth and remove the hardened plaque (called calculus or tartar) that builds up on teeth. Most hygienists use a series of metal hand instruments to clean your teeth. Some are using ultrasonic scalers, which provide deep cleaning above and below the gum line.

Polishing — After your teeth have been cleaned, they are polished to remove plaque and stains on the tooth surface. The polish contains an abrasive substance and fluoride, and is applied using a small rotating rubber cup or brush attached to the dental hand piece.

Prevention — Your hygienist might offer additional instructions for you to follow at home, based on the results of your exam. Don’t hesitate to ask your hygienist for instructions about brushing or flossing, or general care questions about your teeth and gums.

X-rays — X-rays might or might not be taken during your check up. Your dentist will consider your clinical examination, dental history, and risk for developing cavities in determining the frequency for X-rays.

Treatment recommendations — If any oral health problems are identified during your examination, your dentist will make recommendations for the best next steps. These might include referral to another oral health care specialist, additional diagnostic tests, or advice to return for restoration work or additional oral health care.