Diagnostic Exams & Teeth Cleaning
Regular twice-yearly professional cleanings and diagnostic exams from Dr. Nancy E. Gill, Dr. Dallas D. Kenson, and our team provide the foundation for good oral health. Beyond removing tartar and stains from your teeth, our diagnostic abilities can catch oral health issues such as gingivitis and decay before they develop into larger problems. Plus, every exam checks for oral cancer.
Here’s what we offer during these visits:
What Does my dental exam Involve?
There’s a reason we pull on your tongue, push on your glands below your jawline, and use picks to probe areas on your molars — it’s all part of catching oral health problems early. Here’s what we cover with our exams.
- Diagnostic dental X-rays — X-rays are crucial in detecting decay, possible tumors, cysts, and bone loss in the patient. X-rays also determine the position of each tooth and its root. We employ the latest technology to keep our diagnostic options at the forefront of the industry (see section below).
- Oral cancer screening — We check your gums, tissues, throat, tongue, lips, face, and neck for any signs of oral cancer. The number of patients with oral cancer as a result of the human papillomavirus (HPV) has been growing.
- Evaluation of gum disease — We check the gums as well as the bone surrounding the teeth for signs of periodontal disease.
- Examination of dental decay — We will examine every tooth surface for decay.
- Examination of existing dental restorations — We will check your existing dental restorations — fillings, crowns, bridges, veneers, etc. — for stability and wear.
How is a professional cleaning different than home hygiene?
Our registered dental hygienists perform your professional cleanings, also known as “dental prophylaxis.” Here’s what they do:
- Calculus (tartar) removal — Calculus builds when plaque calcifies and bonds to your teeth. Drs. Gill and Kenson will remove this during your cleaning. It is commonly found above and below the gum line and can’t be removed by tooth brushing alone. Special dental instruments are needed to completely remove tartar, breaking the bond it has formed on the tooth surface.
- Plaque removal — Plaque is a nearly invisible, sticky substance that forms on the teeth. Along with saliva and food debris, bacteria are found in plaque. Not removing plaque, and its bacteria, leads to gum inflammation, tooth decay, and periodontal disease.
- Teeth polishing —This final step polishes the teeth, removing many stains and any remaining plaque remnants.
Our diagnostic capability is extensive
Dr. Gill and Dr. Kenson use some of the most advanced technologies to X-ray and photograph your teeth to see any underlying damage that a traditional mirror examination cannot provide. Here are the tools we use to keep your teeth healthy:
Dental X-rays are beneficial in finding cavities. A panorex X-ray, or panoramic X-ray, provides a full view of the upper and lower jaws, teeth, temporomandibular (TM) joints, and sinuses. This panorex X-ray shows more of a patient’s oral cavity than a traditional X-ray can.
X-rays can be used to reveal cysts, tumors, bone irregularities, wisdom teeth and more. And, unlike with a traditional X-ray, the mandibular nerve, which is the nerve going to the lower lip, is fully visualized with a panorex X-ray. The panorex X-ray can also sometimes be able to see calcifications of the carotid artery.
The panorex X-ray machine makes a complete half circle from ear to ear, producing a complete two-dimensional representation of the entire oral cavity. This panoramic view is accomplished by rotating the X-ray film around the patient’s head for approximately twelve seconds.
Less radiation is produced by a panorex X-ray than by a traditional X-ray, and the actual taking of the panorex X-ray is more comfortable for the patient.
An intraoral camera is an advanced diagnostic tool that provides clear, detailed images of the teeth and mouth that a simple mirror examination cannot achieve. These devices have been used since the early 1990s, and are now found in up to half of all dental offices because of their many advantages.
In addition to ensuring a proper diagnosis, an intraoral camera can help a patient understand a diagnosis and recognize the benefits of any recommended treatment. The images from an intraoral camera allow a dentist to view the teeth at magnified levels, and to keep a permanent record of the teeth for comparison over time, and before and after treatment. Photo documentation of the teeth can also help speed up the insurance-claim process by providing clear-cut evidence of dental conditions.
In medicine, 3-D imaging is the process used to create images of the human body and its internal organs. This type of procedure requires a patient to sit or stand still while a machine circles the patient to record the images. Different techniques are used depending on the part of the body being examined and what variety of image is needed. For dentistry, it is used to check the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the patency of the airway. It can also be used to check for tumor or cystic formation in the jaw, as well as locating anatomical landmarks when placing implants.
How often should I have these professional cleanings and exams?
Patients should see us every six months for professional cleanings and diagnostic exams. This isn’t an arbitrary timeline. Six months is about the time it takes for plaque to turn into tartar to a degree that it threatens to begin to push under the gums. When this happens your gums become irritated, a condition called gingivitis. If we don’t address the tartar at this point, your gums are heading toward an unhappy future — gum disease. By seeing us every six months, your chances of developing gum disease are dramatically lowered.
What is A fluoride treatment?
Your teeth remain strong and healthy through a process known as remineralization, where minerals are added to your tooth enamel. The reverse, demineralization, occurs when acids formed from the bacteria in plaque and sugars in the mouth attack the enamel. Fluoride has been proven in numerous large research studies to help prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to those acids. This is especially important for children with developing teeth, but fluoride treatments can also help adults whose teeth are prone to developing cavities.
We provide concentrated fluoride treatments. We apply a fluoride varnish to the teeth or place a tray with fluoride gel on the teeth for several minutes. Afterwards, patients need to not rinse their mouth, or eat or drink anything for 30 minutes. This allows the teeth to absorb the fluoride.
Oral Therapy Practices for Children
Dr. Nancy Gill encourages oral therapy for the proper growth and development of nasal breathing in children. Watch as Dr. Gill and her daughter demonstrate some at-home techniques!
How do your exams check for oral cancer?
When we’re examining your mouth, we probe your lymph nodes under your jaw, pull on your tongue, push on various spots across your cheeks, and visually examine the inside of your mouth. We’re checking for these signs of oral cancer:
- A sore in the mouth
- A lump or thickening in the cheek
- Persistent mouth pain
- Difficulty swallowing or chewing
- A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsils, or lining of the mouth
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Jaw pain
- Numbness of the tongue or other areas in your mouth
- Jaw swelling
- Persistent bad breath
This is another reason why twice-yearly exams are important. Drs. Gill and Kenson can spot any signs of oral cancer early, and that’s the key to successfully treating, and beating, oral cancer.
Schedule an Appointment
To schedule an appointment for a diagnostic exam or teeth cleanings, call our office at (303) 277-9600. Nancy E. Gill, DDS and Dr. Dallas Kenson serve Denver, Golden, and surrounding areas in Colorado.