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Exams, Cleanings, and X-rays

Dental Exams

At South Waterfront Dental comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your Southwest Portland dentists and hygienists will include the following:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detections of decay, tumors, cysts and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.

Gentle Thorough Cleaning and Dental Hygiene

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are performed in our office by a Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH). Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:

  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for sometime and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Digital X-rays

Digital radiography (digital X-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental X-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of X-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged, helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems more easily. Digital X-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental X-rays.

Dental X-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Two-thirds of the tooth cannot be seen when just looking clinically. Without X-rays, problem areas can go undetected.

Dental X-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Bone loss
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
  • Decay between teeth
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Poor tooth and root positions
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort and your teeth!

Are Dental X-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series (FMX) of X-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources. Digital X-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital X-rays better for the health and safety of the patients, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the detail image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the X-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.

How often should dental X-rays be taken?

The need for dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary X-rays based upon review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age and risk of disease.

A full mouth series of dental X-rays (FMX) is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing X-rays (X-rays of the top and bottom biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once a year to detect new dental problems.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with your Southwest Portland dentist of choice, please contact us today!