Dental Exams & Cleanings

Dental Exams

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed at your initial dental visit as well as a full set of low radiation digital x-rays.  Because we need over an hour to take x-rays, thoroughly evaluate, diagnose, and educate our new patients about oral health, we generally do not do cleanings during the first visit to our office. Once we fully evaluate your mouth, we will more adequately be able to recommend the ideal amount of time and type of cleaning or treatment for gum disease that may be necessary. We will then schedule your next visit with one of our skilled registered dental hygienists.

Future check-up exams will then coincide with regular preventative cleanings or periodontal maintenance cleanings, and will include the following:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.  X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions. A full set of x-rays is usually taken every 3-5 years and check up x-rays are taken on an annual basis for most patients.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually performed by Registered Dental Hygienists.  Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam and the following:

  • Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface.  Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth.  It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva.  The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums.  This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
  • Teeth polishing: Remove stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

The frequency and type of cleaning is customized for each patient and is based on gum disease status, adequacy of oral hygiene at home, and tendency to build up tartar and susceptibility to inflammation. Most patients with healthy mouths should be seen every six months for prevention of gum disease. Patients that have been diagnosed with gum disease or those who are more prone to buildup and inflammation may be seen every three to four months, sometimes alternating appointments with a gum specialist if gum disease is uncontrolled.


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1317 ninth avenue | san francisco, ca 94122 | map & directions call: 415-731-9311

monday - friday: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

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