Protecting Teeth with Cleanings & Prevention in Bakersfield
At Gateway Family Dentistry, we know how important a healthy smile is for your overall health and happiness. That’s why we provide first-rate cleanings, exams, and preventive treatment for patients and families across Bakersfield.
Dr. Padmaja Mutyala has helped countless smiles across our community since our practice opened in 2012. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or you’ve been coming to us for years, you can count on us to use our skill, passion, and innovative treatments to protect your smile. Schedule your appointment today!
CALL US: (661) 829-7905 REQUEST APPOINTMENT
What is Preventive Dentistry?
Preventive dentistry is about maintaining good oral health by treating problems early and taking proactive steps. The goal is to preserve as much of the natural smile as possible, rather than waiting to address problems after they’ve become severe. In most cases, preventive dentistry relies on two important services: professional cleanings and dental exams.
Why Prevention Matters
Several factors affect your oral health. Even if you do a great job with your hygiene at home, problems can still creep up on you. Left untreated, they worsen until you need advanced care. Problems like tooth decay and gum disease can become so dire that teeth have to be extracted, and without teeth, your ability to speak, chew, and interact with others is compromised.
Prevention helps to protect your health and lifestyle. Being able to detect problems quickly can allow us to stop and even reverse health problems, saving you from future pain and potentially expensive, invasive treatments.
How Dental Exams Protect Your Teeth
When you come to visit us for your six-month exams, you can count on us to be thorough and precise in checking for any sign of disease or damage. We use a variety of modern tools and technology to examine your oral health in every area.
What Happens During a Dental Exam?
There are two aspects when it comes to dental exams – the visual check and the digital exam. During the visual exam, Dr. Mutyala uses various tools to check your entire mouth for any signs of health problems.
Teeth – The teeth are examined for any signs of tooth decay or damage, such as cracks, chips, and uneven wearing. Any restorations are also checked to see if they are still effective.
Gums – Our dentist checks the gums for signs of gum disease, such as redness, swelling, or bleeding. She also uses a gauge to see if pockets have developed below the gum line.
Bite – Looking to see how your teeth meet can reveal the potential for health problems like uneven wear, poor digestion, or jaw strain.
Tongue – The tongue offers valuable insight into your bite, oral health, and can even indicate other health issues.
Face, Neck & Jaw – Examining these outer areas can reveal signs of jaw problems, infection, and other diseases.
Our office uses intra-oral cameras – small cameras that peer into the mouth and project it onto a larger monitor. This not only allows our dentist to see hard-to-reach areas clearly, but can show you what she sees as well.
The digital exam includes a digital x-ray. This produces a clear picture of the tooth and jaw structures hidden beneath the surface. It helps the dentist to detect cavities, fractures, bone loss, and other problems that may otherwise go undetected. Digital x-rays are often preferred over traditional x-rays today because they can be viewed instantly and use far less radiation.
What Happens if You Find a Problem?
Once a problem is identified, the next step is to determine the most appropriate treatment. The right treatment will depend on the type of problem and how much it has progressed. Dr. Mutyala uses her more than 20 years of experience to help you decide what kind of treatment you’ll need.
Sometimes, regular cleanings and a change in lifestyle may be enough to reverse the situation. Other issues may require a more long-term solution, such as a filling, crown, or deep cleaning for gum disease. If the situation has become too advanced for treatment, an extraction may be necessary.
Are Dental Extractions Safe?
While we always try to save a tooth when possible, some situations will make an extraction necessary. Like other treatments, extractions are used to resolve dental problems and promote good oral health. If you need a tooth extracted, you can trust Dr. Mutyala to handle it expertly and leave you in better health.
There are actually several reasons an extraction may be considered. The most common reasons include:
- Severe tooth decay
- Gum disease loosening the tooth
- Jaw bone loss
- Trauma leaving the tooth broken
- An impacted tooth
- A tooth partially erupted
- Removing a wisdom tooth
- Removing a tooth for orthodontics
Dental Cleanings for a Fresh, Healthy Smile
Few things can leave your smile feeling as fresh as an invigorating dental cleaning. This routine treatment is ideal for helping you eliminate harmful plaque and bacteria, promoting better oral and overall health.
Cleanings typically include four stages:
- Plaque removal – Using special tools, we remove all traces of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the surfaces of your enamel. We take great care to go between the teeth and below the gum line, which is difficult to reach with normal brushing.
- Flossing – A professional flossing helps to remove food debris and plaque from areas that are likely hard for you to access on your own.
- Polishing – We use a dental polish to smooth out and refresh your enamel, making your teeth feel smooth and clean. This may remove some minor surface stains.
- Fluoride – A fluoride treatment provides minerals that help strengthen your enamel and provide temporary protection for your teeth against cavities.
Do I Need a Dental Cleaning if I Brush Every Day?
Yes, you’ll still need a professional cleaning. While we encourage patients to brush twice a day and floss once a day, regular hygiene at home still won’t be able to reach every area of your mouth.
Plaque that gets passed over by the brush or floss gradually hardens into tartar, which weakens the enamel and irritates the gums. Cleanings use special tools that eliminate tartar and stop tooth decay from developing.
Is a Normal Cleaning Different from a Deep Cleaning?
These two services are often understandably confused, but are, in fact, two very different treatments. A normal cleaning is what you’d receive during your six-month visit, alongside your dental exam. A deep cleaning, however, is a treatment for advanced cases of gum disease.
Deep cleanings are also known as scaling and root planing. When gum disease advances, the gums pull away from the tooth root and form pockets beneath the gum line, where bacteria can gather. In this procedure, the bacteria are removed along with any tartar developed on the root surface. The root is then smoothed out to prevent more bacteria from collecting and to encourage the gums to reattach.
Do Dental Cleanings Hurt?
No, a dental cleaning is gentle and shouldn’t be a painful experience. If your teeth and gums are healthy, this treatment simply cleans and refreshes your smile, maintaining good health. If you do feel pain during the cleaning, it’s likely a sign that you have gum disease in that area.
Be sure to let the person performing the cleaning know if you feel any pain. This will help us identify any disease so that you can get the treatment you need.
Keeping Your Smile Healthy at Home
Dr. Mutyala and her team work hard to keep your smile healthy every six months, but between those visits, your oral health depends a lot on you and your choices. Fortunately, taking good care of your teeth doesn’t have to mean constant vigilance. Practicing good hygiene and making a few smart choices throughout the day could make a world of difference for your future smiles.
Benefits of Good At-Home Hygiene
As your dental team, we strive to keep your smile in optimal health as much as possible. It goes without saying that the worse condition your teeth and gums are in, the more will be needed to restore their health. When you do your part at home every day, it comes with several benefits for you, including:
- Shorter dental visits
- Fewer fillings, crowns, and restoration
- Less oral pain and sensitivity
- Your natural teeth last longer
- You feel more confident in your smile
5 Simple Steps to Keeping Your Smile Healthy
Practicing good hygiene doesn’t have to be a constant chore! When you turn these five steps into habits, you can help to protect your teeth almost without having to think twice about doing it!
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Floss once a day between every tooth.
- Limit sugary foods.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking or using tobacco.
Working With You to Build Your Healthiest Smile
At Gateway Family Dentistry, we believe that helping you enjoy a healthy smiles comes from a strong partnership. We want to work with you to provide the best possible care when you visit and to give you the tools you need to protect your smile every day.
Discover how good it feels to be confident in your healthy smile! Contact us to schedule your visit today!
CALL US: (661) 829-7905 REQUEST APPOINTMENT