We prefer minimal intervention
Elgin Dental Care is passionate about oral health care; our underlying belief is that preventative dentistry is best for our patients, so we only treat teeth and gums when necessary.
To that end, we continuously guide our patients towards better oral hygiene, including giving dietary advice so they have the best chance of keeping their teeth and gums in tip-top health.
Our state of the art equipment enables early detection of issues, so even when intervention is necessary, we hope treatment has been minimised.
Why are regular check-ups important?
The majority of tooth loss is due to periodontal (gum) disease and tooth decay, both of which take time to develop.
Regular dental check ups are key to good oral health; catching the early signs of tooth decay and gum disease gives the best opportunity of halting the process and minimising treatment.
During check ups, we also routinely examine patients for the early signs of the different oral cancers, which although relatively rare, are often not detected early enough. If you are worried in any way about something unusual in your mouth, please ask to see one of our dentists.
What do we do during a dental examination?
Our routine regular appointments are scheduled for 20 minutes because we are mostly looking for changes and addressing patient concerns. For new patients, or patients we haven’t seen in over 2 years, we like to conduct an extensive examination of an hour in which we really get to understand our patient’s oral hygiene routine and health. Below is a list of what we check during a routine examination, although you may find that not all will apply to you at each appointment. For instance, we only take radiographs on a case by case basis when we have a good justification for doing so.
- We start by listening to any concerns you have about your oral health, then ask about how you clean your teeth and keep your mouth healthy, reinforcing best practice ideas on hygiene
- Starting on the outside of your mouth, we first look at the function of your jaw
- We then check your facial muscles to see if they are being overwhelmed by teeth grinding
- Next, we check that your glands are all ok – your lymph nodes, thyroid etc.
- Then we move on to look at your soft tissue health, to inspect the insides of your cheeks, lips and tonsils for any signs of infection, as well as any lesions that might be associated with a trauma (for instance lip biting). It is during this part of the check that we would notice any abnormalities in your bone structure, the supporting structure of your teeth or anything that could be an early indicator of oral cancer
- The next stage involves a very careful inspection of your gums to assess how healthy and well cleaned they are. We will ask how you look after them and refresh your knowledge of the best ways to keep them healthy
- We check for receding gums and the causes of them (for instance brushing too hard or grinding), giving advice on how to slow the process
- The next stage is to inspect each tooth individually to look for decay or other problems like attrition, which is caused by grinding and clenching or erosion caused by acid attack from food or gastric reflux. We will always cross reference this part of the examination with the radiographs we hold and will discuss with you any abnormality, sensitivity or discomfort you may be experiencing
- If we see something unexpected that we would like to investigate further, we may suggest taking new radiographs. Radiographs are important because they show bone levels and associated infections as well as your teeth. We will show and explain these radiographs to you
- In certain circumstances, we might suggest using our intra-oral cameras and decay detecting sensors to gain additional information about your oral health. These images and this information are of course available to you
- We check that previous treatments are still working
- If you have expressed an interest in cosmetic treatment, we will give you an overview of the options available to you
- To close, we offer you advice and guidance on diet and any other areas of maintaining optimal oral health, including the implications on the health of the rest of the body. We will also share news of the latest available technologies that you may find helpful
If, at the end of an extensive examination, it is clear that you need a more complex course of treatment, we will invite you to what is called an ‘Options Meeting’. We do not charge you for this meeting and hope that you will bring a member of your family or a friend to support you in the big decisions you may have to make. At the meeting, we will lay out the treatment choices available to you, their benefits and risks and make you aware of the timelines and the costs involved. You will be given plenty of opportunities to ask any questions of us, both in this meeting and afterwards, helping you to decide the best treatment plan for you.
Why is Periodontal disease a problem?
Periodontal disease is gum disease. Its early signs are swollen and/or bleeding gums. If left untreated, the tissues around the teeth diminish and eventually the gum recedes from the tooth. When this happens, pockets can form and the bone starts to reduce, loosening the teeth.
The health implications of periodontal disease are well documented and are linked to heart disease, including high blood pressure and angina, strokes, diabetes, dementia and even problems in pregnancy.
The good news is, that if caught in the early stages, a few simple changes to your oral hygiene routine and regular visits to the hygienist can easily halt progression of the disease. If you are at risk, our hygienists will work out a plan with you to treat and protect your gums.