Preventive Care

Dental Cleanings & Check Ups

Prophylaxis appointments, more commonly known as a dental cleaning and check-up appointment, are a standard preventive measure in dental medicine, which involves professionally cleaning your teeth and inspecting your mouth for signs of any issues. At-home oral care is very important. of course, but seeing Dr. Parasher at regular intervals is still recommended for continuing dental health. If you’re not familiar with dental prophylaxis, you may wonder exactly what it is and why you need it.

What to Expect During Your Dental Cleaning Appointment

A prophylaxis or dental cleaning appointment is a routine, preventive procedure. Your dental hygienist will update your medical history to see if there have been any changes in your health, such as pregnancy, new diagnosis, medications, or other updates. They will also do a physical and visual examination of your mouth to screen for oral cancer or anything else that might require medical attention.


X-rays help your dentist identify potential oral health problems that aren’t visible to the naked eye, like cavities or impacted wisdom teeth, for example. When your dental professional determines it’s time for you to get X-rays, you will probably get bite-wing X-rays of your molar and premolar teeth. Some dental practices also take pictures of the anterior incisor teeth, which are in the front of your bite. The ADA recommends that you and your dentist discuss their plan for X-rays so that you can make decisions together.

If you have excellent oral health and regularly see your dental professional, your dentist may recommend X-rays less often than if you’re at risk for oral health issues. Factors that dental professionals consider when determining the frequency at which you should get X-rays include the following:

  • Age
  • Oral health
  • Risk for disease
  • If you already have signs of oral disease
  • Discomfort in your mouth

Periodontal Probing

Once your dental hygienist updates your medical history, they will visually examine your gum tissue and conduct a periodontal probing. This involves measuring the depth of your gum tissue with a tool known as a periodontal probe. It’s crucial to measure gum tissue because our gums should fit snug around our teeth. Due to poor oral hygiene, age, or medical conditions, our gums may pull away from our teeth, creating pockets where food particles and bacteria can get stuck.

Teeth Inspection & Cleaning

Besides periodontal probing, your dental hygienist will inspect your teeth. This is to alert your dentist of any areas that should be checked for potential tooth decay. Lastly, they will perform a dental cleaning using special instruments (ultrasonic and hand) to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and beneath your gumline. Your hygienist will also polish your teeth to remove tooth stains and then clean between your teeth with floss (also known as interdental cleaning).

Ongoing Oral Care Recommendations

Your dental hygienist and dentist are a good source of knowledge for questions and concerns surrounding at-home oral care. They can make recommendations for taking better care of your mouth and demonstrate proper oral care techniques. They’ll remind you to rinse after eating and to brush your teeth twice per day, floss once per day, and use a mouthwash.

Full Mouth Examination

Following your dental hygienist’s work, your dentist will then perform a full examination of your mouth. This includes examining your teeth, gums, and the rest of your mouth for signs of disease, and reviewing any X-rays that were taken.

Why Regular Professional Dental Cleaning is Necessary

If you take good care of your teeth at home, you may be wondering why your dentist says you need regular cleanings. The primary reason is dental problems may go unnoticed in their early stages. They may not cause pain or have visible signs. However, a dental prophylaxis appointment can help your dental professionals diagnose these problems earlier, before they become more serious issues.  For example, it’s common not to feel pain from a cavity when it first forms but your dentist will likely spot that forming cavity in your prophylaxis appointment and repair it before it gets larger and causes you discomfort and potentially more expense.

How Often to Do Dental Prophylaxis

The frequency of attending dental prophylaxis treatments is not a “one size fits all” situation. Insurance plans generally cover two cleaning visits per year but the American Dental Association (ADA) simply recommends adults see their dentist at least once per year, with twice annual visits being ideal.

However, If you have a history of periodontal disease, you should get your teeth cleaned every three or four months to prevent the recurrence of infections or disease. You should also have your teeth cleaned more often if you suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease due to their link to dental problems. Other groups that may need more frequent prophylaxis include people who smoke, people who often get cavities, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends children get a teeth cleaning and checkup every six months due to their rapidly changing dentition. Kids should start going to the dentist soon after their first tooth erupts or around their first birthday, whichever happens first.

A dental prophylaxis appointment is meant to serve as a preventive measure helping to keep your mouth healthy and your smile bright, while spotting any issues before they escalate to serious problems. With an oral examination, X-rays, periodontal probing, teeth cleaning, and a comfortable relationship with your dental professional in which discuss your questions and concerns, you are on the right track for great dental health!

Call our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location to schedule your dental cleaning and check up today!

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A sealant is a thin, plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of molars, premolars and any deep grooves (called pits and fissures) of teeth. More than 75% of dental decay begins in these deep grooves. Teeth with these conditions are hard to clean and are very susceptible to decay. A sealant protects the tooth by sealing deep grooves, creating a smooth, easy to clean surface.

Sealants can protect teeth from decay for many years, but need to be checked for wear and chipping at your regular dental visits.

Reasons for Sealants:

  • Children and teenagers As soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear or any time throughout the cavity prone years of 6-16
  • Adults Tooth surfaces without decay that have deep grooves or depressions
  • Baby teeth occasionally done if teeth have deep grooves or depressions and child is cavity prone

What Do Sealants Involve?

Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process takes only a couple of minutes per tooth. The teeth to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned and then surrounded with cotton to keep the area dry. A special solution is applied to the enamel surface to help the sealant bond to the teeth. The teeth are then rinsed and dried. Sealant material is carefully painted onto the enamel surface to cover the deep grooves or depressions. Depending on the type of sealant used, the material will either harden automatically or with a special curing light.

Proper home care, a balanced diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new sealants.

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Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride is the most effective agent available to help prevent tooth decay. It is a mineral that is naturally present in varying amounts in almost all foods and water supplies. The benefits of fluoride have been well known for over 50 years and are supported by many health and professional organizations. Keep reading to learn more about fluoride treatments.

Fluoride works in two ways:

Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay. We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels. Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.

Systemic fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums. We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies. It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. Generally, fluoride drops are recommended for infants, and tablets are best suited for children up through the teen years. It is very important to monitor the amounts of fluoride a child ingests. If too much fluoride is consumed while the teeth are developing, a condition called fluorosis (white spots on the teeth) may result.

Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay. Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:

  • Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.
  • Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
  • Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.
  • Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.
  • Inadequate exposure to fluorides.
  • Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.
  • Recent history of dental decay.

Remember, fluoride alone will not prevent tooth decay! It is important to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, eat balanced meals, reduce sugary snacks, and visit your dentist on a regular basis.

Dr. Patel can advise and answer your questions about fluoride treatments. Make your appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location today!

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Digital Dental X-Rays

Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.

Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.

Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts.
  • Bone loss.
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
  • Decay between the teeth.
  • Developmental abnormalities.
  • Poor tooth and root positions.
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
  • Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!

Are dental x-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.

Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.

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Teeth Cleaning at Home

A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal when treating patients. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal and starts by correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease, as well as limiting between meal snacks and eating balanced meals.

Tooth Brushing

Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to sleep) with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.

Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.

  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of the front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
  • Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.


Daily flossing at least once a day is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing painful and costly damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.


It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Use other dental aids as recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist as they can all play a role in good dental home care:

  • Interdental brushes
  • Rubber tip stimulators
  • Tongue cleaners
  • Irrigation devices
  • Fluoride
  • Medicated rinses

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