A routine, preventive dental cleaning, also called a “prophylaxis,” is completed bi-annually by an Associate’s or Bachelor’s level Registered Dental Hygienist (R.D.H.).
Digital ‘bite-wing’ x-rays are taken during this appointment to display upper and lower back teeth and how they touch. They are used to check for decay between the teeth and to check for bone loss.
A ‘panoramic’ x-ray may also be taken, which shows the jaw, teeth, sinuses, nasal area and tempomandibular bone. They are not used to detect cavities, but will reveal any impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, cysts, tumors, infections and fractures. The dentist will review all radiographs that have been taken during your cleaning appointment. You can learn more about various dental xrays and why they’re important here in this blog post and read Dr. Lake’s “x-rayted” conversation for even more information.
The hygienist will then complete a gentle probing of the gums, which is done annually, to ensure that they are maintaining at a healthy level (ideally 3mm). An oral cancer screening is standard practice in our office, and once completed, your hygienist will remove any build up of plaque, tartar and staining that is above the gum line.