Comprehensive Dental Exams in Missoula, MT

Many people put off making dental appointments, while others have anxiety about visiting the dentist. At Nelson Dentistry, we understand how vulnerable patients can feel about their oral health. We believe that gaining trust and mutual respect helps our patients look forward to visiting their dentist. At our Missoula, MT dental office, our goal is ensuring that our patients have full knowledge of their dental options and oral health gives them a more active role in their health. 

During your comprehensive exam, we will go through all your results with you so that you understand your current oral health and any potential future dental problems. Encouraging our patients to make informed decisions regarding their oral hygiene is essential to us.

What Does a Comprehensive Dental Exam Include?

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. 

Dr. Nelson takes pride in talking through every picture of your teeth and gums, pointing out any issues and answering any questions in detail. We don’t believe in the type of dentistry that tells patients what to do before they fully understand their dental procedure. Knowing is half the battle, and we are passionate about arming our patients with all the information they need to allow them to feel relaxed about any dental process they undergo. 

Why Our Dental Photos Are Different

Customized Dental Treatments

Promoting Oral Health with Regular Check-Ups

What Is the Difference Between Routine Cleaning and Periodontal Maintenance?

When Should I Come in for Periodontal Maintenance?

What is Scaling and Root Planing?

Is Dental Scaling Painful?

Get Your Professional Teeth Cleaning Today!

Why Our Dental Photos Are Different

The high-resolution pictures taken at our Missoula, MT dental practice are generally not offered by other dental offices.  Some dentistry locations don't take any photos at all, while others will take low-resolution zoomed-in photos with an intraoral camera. At Nelson Dentistry, we believe that for you to make educated decisions about your dental procedures, you need to see what's going on through precise, high definition photographs.  Here is an example of some of the typical photos Dr. Nelson takes for his patients:

Teeth cleaning at dentist in Missoula, MT

dental cleaning and exam missoula mt

gold inlaysat dentist office in missoula mt

gold inlays at Nelson Family Dentistrymissoula mt






Customized Dental Treatments

All our Missoula, MT patients benefit from routine dental cleanings, but not everyone gets the same type of dental procedure beyond the basic oral cleaning. Some patients express interest in cosmetic dentistry, while others need more restorative dental work. We offer customized dental treatments and methods depending on the patient's needs and smile goals. 

While mild gingivitis is common among many patients, it can sometimes develop into periodontitis or gum disease. We treat gingivitis with a routine cleaning every six months since that is the optimal time frame to prevent plaque and calculus from becoming out of control. During these check-ups, Dr. Nelson performs an oral examination of the teeth and gums to ensure there aren't new cavities developing out of control.  For patients with periodontitis, many benefit from specialized gum therapy.  There are many different types of periodontitis, and each dental situation has individualized treatments.  If it is particularly advanced, Dr. Nelson may request a consultation with a periodontist, or gum specialist. 

Promoting Oral Health with Regular Check-Ups with Our Missoula Dentist

Our patients in the Missoula, MT area are encouraged to practice preventative measures to avoid gum therapy by flossing and brushing every day, and by having regular checkups.  Some patients develop gum disease even with regular maintenance, but in most cases, it's a slow and steady painless progression that sneaks up on them.  Once a patient develops periodontitis, it's a constant battle to keep it in remission through a procedure called "periodontal maintenance."  

What Is the Difference Between Routine Cleaning and Periodontal Maintenance?

At our Missoula, MT dental office, one of our most frequent patient questions is about the difference between "routine cleaning" and "periodontal maintenance."  While it may seem like there is little difference during the dental procedure, our dental hygienist uses different techniques when cleaning root surfaces during gum maintenance. 

When Should I Come in for Periodontal Maintenance?

Our dental office in Missoula, MT encourages our patients in keeping a healthy mouth by maintaining regular dental appointments with Dr. Nelson. These routine check-ups can let the dentist know if their patient has oral complications. Here are a few symptoms of gum disease to look for between your dental visits:

During periodontal treatment, any deep gum “pockets” will be thoroughly inspected and cleaned. Spaces between the teeth and roots are checked and rinsed. Tooth decay and other oral health issues can occur when bacteria, plaque, calculus, and food debris collects in any pockets or spaces. Because the gum tissue can be overly sensitive due to chronic inflammation that accompanies periodontitis, we take great care to be gentle yet thorough.

No matter what your gum needs are, the dental staff at Nelson Dentistry will take care of you!  

What Is Scaling and Root Planing?

Dental scaling and root planing are dental procedures that treat gum disease by deep cleaning below the gumline. Basic teeth cleaning focuses on the surface of the tooth while scaling and root planing focus on the gumline and root. This oral treatment is routine with patients who have gum disease or extreme plaque buildup. Regular dental cleanings clean the surface of the tooth while tooth scaling cleans deeper, below the surface.

When your gums are healthy, the tissue around them circles tightly around the tooth. Once periodontal disease forms, the gum tissue starts to become loose around the tooth. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t go away if left untreated. Many times, the symptoms become worse; people may experience swollen gums or bad breath. 

The dental scaling procedure scrapes plaque from the surface of the tooth at the gumline. Dr. Nelson will explain the process and show why these treatments are invaluable for keeping a healthy mouth. 

Dental scaling and root planing are often done in proximity. Root planing is a dental procedure that focuses on the root of the tooth. The process is similar to dental scaling, and it helps the gums circle around the tooth. 

If your Missoula, MT dentist suggests dental scaling and root planing for your teeth, it’s invaluable to understand what the dental procedures are so you can plan.

Is Dental Scaling Painful?

If you have sensitive or painful gums, your dentist can apply a local anesthetic to your gums for your comfort. The gumline will feel numb, and our patients often don’t feel anything to make sure you are comfortable. The dentistry staff at Nelson Dental work hard to keep our patients cozy and provide them with a pleasant experience. Maintaining good oral health can involve multiple procedures, but they don’t have to be painful or scary.  

Get Your Professional Teeth Cleaning In Missoula, MT

If you are in Missoula, MT and would like to know more about our high level of dental care, or are interested in coming in for a comprehensive exam to truly see how your oral health is going, give us a call to schedule a dental cleaning. There is nothing we love more at Nelson Dentistry than knowing every single one of our patients is healthy and living successfully.  


Video explaining gingivitis:


Video explaining periodontitis:


Video explaining "scaling and root planing" (also known as "gum therapy"):


  • Swollen, red gums
  • Tender, painful to the touch gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Consistent bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Emerging gaps between teeth
  • Pain while eating
  • Vanishing gum line


  If you have more questions about our comprehensive services, would like to schedule a dentist appointment in Missoula contact us online.