Visiting The Dentist: The 5 Most Common Dental Procedures Explained

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for maintaining optimal oral health. During these visits, dentists often perform various dental procedures to prevent, diagnose, and treat dental issues. In this blog post, we will explore the five most common dental procedures you may encounter during a visit to the dentist.

1. Teeth cleaning

Teeth cleaning, or dental prophylaxis, is a fundamental dental procedure that helps maintain good oral hygiene and prevent gum diseases. This includes a full-mouth examination of your teeth and gums and cleaning and preventative measures for a healthy smile. During this procedure, a dental hygienist or dentist will use specialised tools to remove plaque, tartar, and stains from the teeth.  It also involves scaling and polishing the teeth to ensure they are clean and smooth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum problems.

What to expect during your teeth cleaning appointment

When you visit your dentist for a clean and check-up, they will often

  • Examine your mouth and teeth for signs of problems
  • Use X-rays to discover potential oral health problems (like cavities) that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
  • Use special instruments to check for signs of gum disease. 
  • Remove plaque buildup. 
  • Check the tongue, jaw and neck for signs of mouth cancer.

Regular teeth cleaning is typically recommended at least every six months to maintain optimal oral health. It helps prevent cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath and gives your teeth a fresh and polished appearance.

2. Fillings

Dental fillings are a standard procedure for treating cavities and restoring damaged teeth. Cavities occur when acids produced by bacteria erode the tooth’s enamel. During a filling procedure, the dentist removes the decayed portion of the tooth and fills the space with a suitable filling material, such as composite resin, amalgam, or porcelain.

What to expect during your dental filling procedure

  • You’ll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. This can take about ten minutes to kick in.  
  • Once you’re numb around the area of the required filling, your dentist will use certain tools to clean out the area where the cavity or old filling is. It’s crucial that this area is thoroughly cleaned out – especially if an old filling is being removed. 
  • From here, your dentist will shape and insert your new filling based on your desired filling material. 
  • Lastly, your dentist will conduct a polish and bite check to ensure the filling is shaped correctly to fit in with the teeth around it. If your filling isn’t shaped properly, you can end up with tooth pain from improperly touching teeth when you chew.

Fillings not only restore the tooth’s structure and function but also prevent further decay and damage. It’s crucial to address cavities promptly to prevent the need for more extensive treatments like root canals or extractions.

3. Whitening

Teeth whitening, also known as teeth bleaching, is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that aims to lighten the colour of teeth and improve their appearance. Over time, teeth can become discoloured due to various factors such as food and drinks, smoking, aging, and certain medications.

Professional teeth whitening involves the application of a bleaching agent to the teeth, either in the office or with a take-home kit provided by the dentist. This process can help remove stains and lighten the shade of your teeth, giving you a brighter and more attractive smile.

What to expect during your teeth whitening session

  • Teeth whitening done by your dental professional is quick, easy and painless. 
  • Your dentist will first take impressions to have custom trays made that fit your mouth perfectly.
  • A second visit is required to show you how to use the trays and the whitening system.
  • You take the whitening trays and kit home and use as described by the dentist, typically for 2-3 weeks or until you are happy with the result.
  • Treatment times vary, but generally, the trays are worn for between 30-60 minutes a day.

4. Fissure Seals

Fissure seals are a preventive dental treatment to protect the vulnerable grooves and pits on the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. These areas are prone to trapping food particles and bacteria, making them susceptible to decay. Fissure sealants are thin coatings applied to these surfaces to create a smooth and easy-to-clean surface, preventing the accumulation of plaque and bacteria.

This procedure mainly benefits children and teenagers whose permanent teeth have recently erupted. It helps maintain good oral hygiene and reduces the risk of cavities in the molars and premolars.

What to expect when getting fissure seals

  • Fissure seals are quick, painless procedures requiring no anaesthetic and no drilling. 
  • Your dental practitioner will first clean and dry the tooth, preparing the tooth surface so that the sealant bonds well. 
  • Next, they will paint on the liquid sealant, which will flow into the deep groves and pits of your teeth. 
  • A strong light will then harden the sealant. 
  • Finally, your dentist will check your bite and polish off any excess sealant.  

5. Extractions

Tooth extraction is a dental procedure in which a tooth is removed from its socket in the jawbone. This is usually a last resort when a tooth is severely damaged, decayed, infected, or impacted (unable to fully emerge). Extractions may also be necessary for orthodontic reasons or to create space for dentures.

Although tooth extraction is generally straightforward, the dentist will take appropriate measures to ensure the patient’s comfort and may provide post-operative care instructions to facilitate a smooth recovery.

What to expect during a tooth extraction

  • Before the extraction, your dentist will look at your mouth, surrounding gums, medical history and dental x-rays. 
  • The extraction is done either under local anaesthetic at the dentist or general anaesthetic at the hospital. 
  • A special tool will be used to loosen the damaged tooth within your gum.
  • Once it is loose enough, the dentist will use forceps to remove the tooth. 
  • Once removed, they will clean the tooth socket and stitch it up if required. 

Come visit the team at Mornington Peninsula Dental Clinic

Understanding these common dental procedures can help relieve anxiety and ensure a positive dental experience. Regular dental check-ups and timely treatments are vital for maintaining a healthy smile and overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to contact the Mornington Peninsula Dental Clinic team for any concerns or questions about these procedures. Your dental health is an essential part of your overall health, so make it a priority!

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