Dental Cleanings & Hygiene in Durham, NC

The most important thing you can do to protect your oral health is to make a conscious commitment to brush and floss your teeth. Sounds pretty basic, right? That’s because it is; simple steps like conscientious oral hygiene and routine dental exams and cleanings at The Smile Shop help you dramatically minimize your risk for dental problems.

Dr. Kate Dolin and Dr. Adam Spriggs recommend exams and dental hygiene appointments at our Durham, NC dental office at least every six months. When we see you twice a year, our dentists can monitor your oral health and look for signs of small problems developing. Addressing conditions like cavities and gum disease when they’re small protects your oral health, minimizes discomfort, and saves money on dental treatment.

Schedule Your Dental Exam and Cleaning

Excellent oral health is a gift you owe to yourself. You’ll feel better and more confident about your appearance. You won’t be weighed down by chronic dental conditions that take their toll on your quality of life and your budget.

Whether you want to maintain a healthy smile or get help for some existing problems, call The Smile Shop and schedule your next dental exam and cleaning in Durham, NC.

Why do I need to brush and floss regularly?

Plaque is the soft deposit that accumulates on your teeth from food and drinks you consume. It is filled with bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease, so you need to brush at least twice a day and floss once to remove it.

If not removed by regular brushing and flossing, plaque can harden into a substance called tartar or calculus that clings to your teeth and leads to gum disease. You can’t brush or floss tartar away at home, and only a skilled hygienist or dentist in Durham, NC can remove it using specialized instruments.

At The Smile Shop, we follow the recommendations set by the American Dental Association that say you should floss once per day and brush twice per day for two minutes. But frequency is only half the battle! Proper brushing and flossing techniques are also essential.

That’s why we take time each appointment to educate and ensure you are using the best methods for a clean and healthy smile.  If you want to know more, call us today!

How often do I need dental exams and tooth cleanings?

The frequency of dental exams and cleanings is variable and depends on your oral health. While many children and adults require a regular cleaning or “prophylaxis” every six months, some people require getting their teeth cleaned and evaluated more frequently, such as every three to four months.  The health of your gums and bone surrounding your teeth play a large part in determining if your teeth need professional cleaning more frequently.

For most people, examinations of your teeth should occur at least twice a year. We typically schedule these exams with your cleaning appointments every six months. 

What happens during a routine dental cleaning?

Routine tooth cleanings at The Smile Shop with our amazing licensed dental hygienists allow for all tartar and plaque to be removed that adversely affects your teeth. During each appointment, we will provide oral hygiene instructions to each patient, including:

  • Going over any areas that you are missing at home
  • Recommendations of kinds of toothpaste or rinses that fit your needs
  • Proper brushing and flossing techniques
  • Dietary habits affecting your smile

After getting your teeth cleaned by one of our amazing hygienists, Dr. Spriggs or Dr. Dolin comes in to evaluate the health of your teeth, gums, and smile. We check for signs of cavities by examining the appearance of each tooth with their mirror and magnified loupes glasses. The gums and bone are evaluated with comprehensive periodontal measurement charting while looking for signs of recession and inflamed gums.

If it’s time for your next dental cleaning and exam, please call our Durham, NC dental office to arrange a convenient appointment.

Why do you need to take dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays play a huge role in allowing us to complete a comprehensive and thorough exam. The different types of x-rays will enable us to see the condition between your teeth, which is an area we cannot see directly. X-rays also help us evaluate and screen for periodontal disease by being able to see bone levels around your teeth.  They also will help us look for signs of infection and any pathology that may be present.

What is periodontal disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC), approximately 50 percent of Americans have periodontal (gum) disease. It is a bacterial infection of the gums that usually occurs due to a lack of proper oral hygiene. During the day, a sticky biofilm called plaque collects on your teeth. Plaque is filled with bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease if you don’t remove it from your teeth.

If bacteria-filled plaque is allowed to collect on your teeth and under your gums, it causes the infection we call gum disease. When you have gum disease, the periodontal pockets (the space between your gums and tooth) may be deeper than what you can keep clean at home with toothbrush and floss.

If you wait too long to seek gum disease treatment in Durham, NC, you put yourself at risk for periodontitis, the most advanced stage of gum disease. At this point, the infection is already damaging the bone and structures that support your teeth and can lead to tooth loss.

Periodontal disease can progress with few signs or symptoms. Often, people are unaware of the presence of the disease, and a thorough examination is required to determine the status of your periodontal health.

  • Bleeding gums when you brush and floss
  • Puffy, red, irritated, or swollen gums
  • A change in the way your teeth feel
  • Bad breath that won’t go away with mouthwash

How do you treat gum disease?

The treatment recommendations for periodontal disease vary depending on severity. Every case is different, so we focus on formulating a customized treatment plan that is best suited to your needs.

The most common treatment is commonly known as a deep cleaning procedure, or scaling and root planing. This is a specialized cleaning where our hygienist designed to remove all plaque and tartar below the gums, including periodontal pockets.

Following the initial deep cleaning at our Durham, NC dental office, we place you on a three to four-month recall to perform periodontal maintenance to prevent the plaque and tartar from re-forming under the gums. By keeping the teeth clean, we help prevent further progression of the disease.

What happens if you don't treat gum disease?

It’s essential to treat gum disease as soon as your dentist finds it. You can’t have healthy teeth if your gums are not healthy, and if you put off treatment, irritation, and infection from bacteria leads to resorption (shrinking) of your gums and the bone surrounding your teeth. This loss of bone and supportive tissues is one of the indicators of advanced periodontal disease.

Without treatment, periodontal disease can lead to infections and tooth loss. If you have diabetes and heart disease, you are particularly at risk of having periodontal disease. Untreated gum infections can adversely affect the health of your entire body, particularly your heart.

If you notice symptoms of gum disease like bleeding or puffy gums, call The Smile Shop to get on our schedule as soon as possible. The sooner we treat it, the less long-term damage periodontal disease will do to your oral health.

Why do I have sensitive teeth?

Having sensitive teeth is all too common in today’s world. It can affect your daily life, make you stay away from the food and drinks you love, or even make dental cleanings uncomfortable.

Sensitive teeth can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Recession of gums exposing the root surface of a tooth
  • Diet-related from consuming frequent acidic drinks like soda
  • Using a whitening treatment, toothpaste, or rinse
  • Presence of cavities

If you're bothered by sensitive teeth, call our Durham, NC dental office to schedule an appointment so we can help you.

What can you do about sensitive teeth?

Staying up to date with cleanings and exams is our priority, and removing tartar buildup and screening for cavities will be completed at each cleaning visit.

  • Improper brushing techniques can contribute to gum recession that in turn worsens tooth sensitivity. Your dental hygienist will go over proper brushing and flossing techniques to help with sensitivity.
  • Some ingredients in toothpaste can worsen sensitive teeth. There are many kinds of toothpaste specifically to help with sensitivity. We can help choose one that is right for you!
  • The foods you eat can contribute to the symptoms of sensitive teeth. Avoiding acidic foods frequently throughout the day and replacing with water.
  • For severe cases, sensitivity varnishes and even fillings are available to help.

If you experience sensitive teeth, be sure to let us know at your visit. We want your smile happy and healthy!