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A guide to dental exams and cleanings for the health and beauty of your smile

At Abel, Phan, & Associates in Sterling, Virginia, we applaud all of our patients. Dr. Anna Abel and Dr. Chuong Phan recognize that some patients visit the dentist for the first time in years. Previous experiences at other offices, dental fear, and anxiety may have kept them away from the care they need to be happy, healthy, and confident. More “experienced” patients may be unfailingly consistent and thorough in their oral hygiene at home. We value all patients and are privileged to provide professional care that supports oral health and a pleasing smile. 

Dental exams and cleanings

Professional care at our practice is made up of, at minimum, regular dental exams, and cleanings. The “standard” is to schedule these appointments once every six months. This routine applies to patients who are not at increased risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions are the principal causes of tooth loss. We may recommend more frequent visits to our practice if you have risk factors, including:

  • Smoke or use tobacco products
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • A diet high in sugars, starches
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth) 
  • Diabetes and other comorbidities
  • Inadequate oral hygiene or challenges to good care at home
  • Pregnant 
  • Some medications, such as cancer therapies or corticosteroids

These factors can affect your body’s ability to fight off infections, or they can otherwise promote the development of plaque build-up. Additionally, if we detect existing enamel erosion or gingival inflammation, follow-up visits will be scheduled to monitor how interventions are working. All patients should expect us to inspect their gums, teeth, and other oral structures and tissues. We will also look for and feel (by touch) lumps, bumps, and other abnormalities that may indicate the presence of precancerous lesions or cancers. For those structures or problems that we can’t see with our eyes, advanced technologies such as cone beam imaging produce clear and detailed photos of the mouth—sophisticated imaging aids in our ability to diagnose the cause of painful symptoms or underlying conditions accurately. Accurate diagnostics inform effective treatment options. 

Our skilled dental hygienists also complete cleanings during the same appointment as your exam. The standard cleaning involves using gentle techniques and tools to remove surface stains, bacteria, and stubborn plaque build-up (tartar) from the teeth and gum line. Patients with active gum disease may require a “deep cleaning,” known as scaling and root planing. Scaling removes bacteria and other nasties from underneath the gum line and encourages healthy gums and healing by smoothing uneven root surfaces, which tend to attract decay-producing germs. 

Start or get back into a healthy routine! Do not put off the professional exams and cleanings to be healthy and maintain a confident smile. Call (571) 450-9848 to schedule your appointment at our Sterling office, and we proudly serve residents in and around Potomac Falls, Herndon, and Ashburn.