Comprehensive Exams & Cleanings in Missoula, MT
Your comprehensive exam will include photographs of your teeth, radiographs (x-rays), diagnosis of gum health, oral cancer screening, finding decay/cavities, charting your existing dental work, and specialized tests on individual teeth as needed. After the exam, we will work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your needs based on your values and lifestyle. We’ll also show you all the pictures we took so you can see exactly what we see.
Interpreting Your Photos
These high-resolution pictures are something that not many other dental offices offer. Some don't take any photos, and some will take low-resolution zoomed in photos with an intraoral camera, but I believe that in order for you to make informed decisions about having treatment done, you need to see what's going on clearly. Here's an example of some of the typical photos I take on one of my patients:
All patients benefit from routine cleanings, but not everyone needs the same attention. While most patients have mild gingivitis, some unfortunate patients have developed periodontitis. We treat gingivitis with a routine cleaning every six months because we find that is the best interval to prevent plaque and calculus from building up out of control and I can also check your teeth to make sure there aren't new cavities growing out of control. For patients with periodontitis, we find most benefit from specialized gum therapy. There are many different types of periodontitis (also known as gum disease) and not all of these situations are handled the same. If it is particularly advanced, I will likely need to get you in touch with a periodontist (gum specialist).
Promoting Oral Health with Regular Check-Ups
Patients do best when they avoid needing gum therapy by flossing and brushing every day, and by having regular checkups. Some patients develop gum disease and it's nothing they could have prevented but in most cases its a slow, steady, and painless progression that sneaks up on them. Once you develop periodontitis it's a constant battle to keep it in remission through a procedure called "periodontal maintenance."
I also get a lot of questions about the difference between a "routine cleaning" and "periodontal maintenance." While it may seem like there is little difference, as you're laying on your back feeling the gentle, yet thorough, scraping, my hygienist uses different techniques and cleans root surfaces that would otherwise not be exposed with a periodontal maintenance procedure. Most people are familiar with the deep gum "pockets" that need reaching, but there are also new "nooks and crannies" between the teeth and roots that need attention. In order to remove the collection of virulent bacteria, plaque, calculus, sulcular secretions, and food debris, we must use smaller instruments that reach down in these areas that are often overly sensitive due to the chronic inflammation that accompanies periodontitis. So now you can see the subtle, yet markedly distinct, difference in treatment!
But no matter what your gum needs are, my team will take care of you.
Video explaining gingivitis:
Video explaining periodontitis:
Video explaining "scaling and root planing" (also known as "gum therapy"):