Proactive Dental Hygienist
Our dental hygienist takes a special interest in “coaching” her patients. She will patiently instruct each patient the correct technique re: how to properly brush, use a rubber tip stimulator, proxabrush, rinse or brush with prescription fluoride, and the floss threader (for patients with bridgework.) For those interested in an electric toothbrush, we happily demonstrate the correct technique.
Not many dental practices take the time to ask patients about their eating habits or discuss the detrimental effects of consuming foods and beverages containing processed sugars. Each of our team members (but especially the hygienist) emphasizes the importance of minimal sugar intake. We will explain the need for diet modification, scheduled tooth brushing times, and if necessary the use of topical prescription fluoride. This is particularly important for our pediatric patients to learn, however, children of ALL AGES are encouraged to be pro-active when it concerns the long term success of their dental health. A balanced diet with minimal refined sugars and vitamin supplements are reviewed with patients, including the elderly, where often medications can influence the oral bacteria and decay rate in their later years.
Scaling and Root Planing
The number one reason for tooth loss in America is gum disease also called Periodontal disease. This condition is often painless. The patient who has it is usually unaware until the gums and supporting bone are seriously damaged. Patient education is the first line of defense against this malady.
Our office performs a thorough periodontal screening at the initial visit. We take and study radiographs (x-rays). We make a diagnosis of the type of gum condition that exists in each patient. We measure the depth of the gum collar, the recession (pulling away of gum from tooth), looseness, and heavy wear and grinding patterns. We take special note of depths of 4mm or greater (known as pockets) and bleeding points. Typically plaque, bacteria, sometimes food debris, and often tartar are also present. Scaling and Root Planing which takes one or more visits is the most effective active treatment for this condition. We explain in detail the steps of this procedure to each patient who is a candidate for it.
Periodontal Scaling and Root planing is an initial therapy performed by the dental hygienist. This non-surgical method of treating Periodontal Disease is performed when pockets exist. A local anesthetic is used to numb the gums. The hygienist will use the ultrasonic scaler to begin the removal of plaque, tartar, and debris below the gum line. Then a series of special instruments are used to smooth and plane the root surface.
Some adjunctive medications may be recommended by the dentist. They include a chlorhexidine mouth rinse, oral antibiotics, granular localized antibiotics (placed directly in the pocket). Strict adherence to a routine of brushing, flossing, rubber tip use and therapeutic rinses is a must for long term success during and after Scaling and Root Planing.
We follow up our initial appointments approximately one month later with an evaluation. The measurements of the gum collar are repeated. The dentist may recommend a fine scale and polish. Typically we recommend the patient be seen on a three month interval by the dental hygienist.
If the condition does not improve, the patient may be referred to a specialist.