As part of a patient's initial visit, they will have an evaluation by one of our doctors. This exam will include radiographs (x-rays), periodontal charting, a TMJ evaluation, restorative evaluation, and cosmetic evaluation. Gathering this information will allow us to present to the patient a comprehensive treatment plan that will include the proper type of cleaning, any restorative needs, such as fillings or crowns, as well as elective procedures to improve the smile.
We then take this treatment plan and break it down into phases from most important to least important, and have our financial coordinator explain fees and give the patient all of our financial options. She will also factor insurance into the overall cost to the patient if necessary.
As most of our existing patients will tell you, our hygiene department is one of our best attributes. Based on the periodontal exam and x-rays, they will provide the necessary type of cleaning at the appropriate intervals. For example, a patient who comes in with very healthy teeth and gums will most likely need a prophylaxis (general cleaning), and will return for this every six months.
A patient who has not been to see a dentist in a long time might need a debridement, which is a cleaning that enables us to properly diagnose periodontal (gum and bone) health. Finally, a patient who is diagnosed with periodontal disease will be treated for that with a cleaning designed to control the disease process and will be placed on a three-month recall to maintain the gum health.
Our hygienists also apply most of our sealants. Sealants are adhesive material that bonds to the tooth to form a protective layer over the grooves of the teeth. The tooth to be sealed is cleaned through a process called etching and then the sealant is flowed into the pits and fissures (grooves) of the teeth. A bright light is placed above the sealant to harden the material. If proper care, including routine checkups and staying away from hard candy and sticky foods, is taken of the sealants, they should last for a long time.