Procedures

Cleanings & Prevention to Protect Your Honolulu Smile 

Your healthy smile is precious to you, and its importance in your life makes it worth protecting. Dr. Paul Tanaka offers the care you need to maintain your oral health through cleanings and preventive care.

Whether you’re a pro at brushing or you’ve been putting off your dental visits, we can provide the care, attention, and education you need to enjoy lifelong smiles. Schedule your visit to get started today!

CALL US: 808-737-6229 REQUEST APPOINTMENT


Why Prevention Matters

Happy Mixed Race Family of Four on the Beach

When your teeth and gums look and feel fine, you might be tempted to think cleanings and exams are unnecessary, something you can skip. However, just because you can’t see or feel a problem, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one there.

Prevention is about identifying early signs of, or potential for, health problems. Catching things in the early stages helps us preserve more of your natural teeth and gums. It also means less of the pain and discomfort disease can cause, and since you won’t need extensive repairs, it also means much less time and expense in the dental chair.

It may be impossible to keep every disease from happening, but the more vigilant you are about your care today, the better your chances of having a healthy smile you can enjoy for a lifetime.


Our Comprehensive Services

Dental prevention looks at your entire oral health, not only your teeth. Our main tools for promoting a healthy smile include:


Dental Exam

Close-up of young female having her teeth examinated

The dental exam is a dentist’s primary tool for understanding your oral situation and what to do about it. Regular exams help to paint a picture of how your oral health progresses, highlighting potential problem areas and allowing us to be proactive in treatment. Simple and non-invasive, they are an important part of your dental care.

Why Are Exams Done Every Six Months?

When it comes to monitoring your dental health, the more current your knowledge, the better. Having a dental exam each month would be impractical, but a six-month gap allows the dentist to evaluate changes in your smile without giving health issues time to progress too far.

What Do Dental Exams Look At?

Dr. Tanaka is committed to being thorough with every exam. A good exam covers your teeth, gums, jaw, and everything in between.

Teeth: Every surface of each tooth is carefully examined. We look for signs of cavities, wear, weakness, and any other damage. All restorations are checked to make sure they are strong and secure.


Gums and Soft Tissues: We check all of the gums and soft tissue for any sign of disease. This includes looking for inflammation, sores, infection, and receding gums. We also use a special measuring tool to look for pockets of space forming beneath the gum line, indicating gum disease.


Roots and Jawbone: X-rays allow us to understand the state of your teeth and jaw below the visible surface. Sequential x-rays taken over time can also show changes in the bone structure, such as jawbone shrinkage.


Chewing Functions: Much of your oral health is affected not only by the state of your teeth but also your bite. We examine how teeth line up, jaw position, and muscle movement to verify proper alignment. A poor bite can leave you at risk for uneven wear, headaches, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).


Neck and Outer Jaw: The outer jaw area is also an important part of your oral health. Examining the neck and jaw can reveal signs of disease and help you take quick action when needed.


Smile Aesthetics: Many people have something they wish they could change about their smile. We evaluate your smile’s appearance for signs of discoloration, cracks, and chipped or worn teeth. This will help us understand what can be done to enhance your smile if you’d like to make changes.

Can the Dentist Tell if I Don’t Brush?

Young woman brushing teeth in the morning

The answer is yes, but also no. During an exam, the dentist will notice signs of an unhealthy mouth, such as plaque, gum inflammation, and tooth decay. In most people, these are signs of poor oral hygiene, either from not doing it or doing it poorly.

However, other factors can also contribute, such as smoking, a poor diet, dry mouth, and even genetics. The dentist will be able to see that something is wrong, but won’t necessarily know why without your input.

It’s important to trust your dentist and be honest about your oral hygiene habits. Dr. Tanaka’s goal is not to judge patients for their dental care, but to help them protect their health the best way they can. Working as a partner with you to improve your at-home dental care is an important element of what we do as your dental professionals.


Professional Dental Cleanings

Your dental care at home is essential for good oral health, but even the best care routine may not be able to cover everything. Our professional cleanings use specialized tools and understanding to clean your teeth thoroughly, especially in hard-to-reach areas. After a dental cleaning, you leave the office feeling fully refreshed and healthy.

Are Cleanings Necessary?

Beautiful smiling girl outdoor portrait at massage spa

Dental cleanings aren’t simply a luxury or a formality that dentists perform. They allow us to help you address potential health risks that standard brushing and flossing can’t.

Even the most diligent brushing can miss areas, especially between the teeth and toward the back of the mouth. Over time, the plaque in these places hardens into tartar, which gradually eats away at enamel and leads to tooth decay.

Normal brushing can’t remove tartar; only a professional dental cleaning can eliminate it and keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Is the Treatment Painful?

A regular dental cleaning is a fairly simple process, and shouldn’t hurt. We use special tools to remove hardened plaque around and just beneath the gum line. If this process is painful, it likely means your gums are unhealthy and sensitive to the touch, which is an early warning sign of gingivitis.

If you experience pain during the procedure, be sure to let us know. We can identify what’s causing the pain and help you to receive the treatment you need.

What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?

A typically dental cleaning happens in four steps, with some variation depending on your personal dental care needs.

Plaque and Tartar Removal: The main aspect of any cleaning. We use specialized tools to scrape away any plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum-line.


Power Polishing: Once your teeth are cleaned, we apply a polish using a special brush. This process smooths out your enamel surface and removes minor stains, enhancing the look and feel of your teeth.


Professional Flossing: An upgraded version of your daily flossing, we use experienced techniques to ensure no plaque or food debris is missed.


Fluoride Treatment: A final fluoride application helps to strengthen your enamel and further prevent the risk of tooth decay.


Taking Car of Your Gums 

Close-up of female smile with healthy teeth

It’s easy to focus on your teeth and overlook your gums, but healthy gums are vital to your overall dental health. In fact, you may be surprised to hear that gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss.

This is why we pay close attention to the health of your gums and do all we can to combat gum disease at any stage. The sooner we can address your gum health, the better your results will be.

How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?

Gum disease starts with subtle symptoms that you may be tempted to dismiss. However, gum disease can change rapidly, with severe and often painful consequences.

When checking your gums to see if they’re healthy, make a note of these symptoms and be sure to mention them to Dr. Tanaka during your next dental exam:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Sensitivity to touch or pressure
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Gums pulling away from teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth

Your Gum Disease Treatment Options

There are several treatments available for gum disease depending on how advanced it is and which symptoms are most severe.

If your gums are still in the early stage, gingivitis, the first step is a professional cleaning. This removes the tartar irritating the gums, allowing the inflammation to heal. We also educate you on the best tactics for caring for your gums at home.

If gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, more targeted treatments are necessary. These can include:

Scaling and Root Planing

When the root begins pulling away from the tooth due to disease, pockets of bacteria develop and leave tartar on the root surface. First, the pockets are irrigated to eliminate the bacteria, and an antibiotic is applied. Special tools remove hardened tartar from the enamel and root below the gum line. Afterward, the enamel is smoothed out to encourage the gums to heal and secure the tooth in place. This procedure is sometimes called a “deep cleaning.”

Larger pockets put the tooth at risk. Pocket reduction surgically reduces the pocket size, enabling the gums to heal correctly around the tooth root.

Gums, unfortunately, don’t grow back once they’ve receded, leaving teeth vulnerable and unstable. A gum graft rebuilds the gum-line with healthy tissue, restoring the mouth and protecting your smile.

In very advanced cases, it may be impossible to save a tooth that has become loose or decayed. In these cases, expert removal of the tooth can reduce the risk of breaking or damage. Once the tooth is removed, you can look into replacing it with a dental implant or another restoration option.

What if I Put Off Treating My Gums?

The longer you wait to have gum disease addressed, the more stressful and expensive your treatment is likely to be. Early gum disease is possible to treat with cleanings and diligent care, but later treatment becomes gradually more invasive. Moreover, once you’ve had advanced gum disease, your gums are much more likely to become diseased in the future. Seeking treatment as soon as you suspect a problem is the surest way to protect and ensure your healthy smile.


Helping You Have Great Oral Hygiene at Home

Mother and daughter child girl are brushing teeth at home

As your oral health partners, we want to do all we can to help you take care of your smile. Patient education is an important part of what we do.

We take the time to help you understand your current health and what unique challenges you face. Not only do we show you proper brushing and flossing techniques, but we also answer your questions and provide advice on how to make healthy dental decisions throughout the day.

5 Simple Dental Habits with Big Benefits

Our goal is to make good dental choices achievable by providing you with simple steps you can take to live a healthier life and protect your smile. These five positive steps make a great start!

  1. Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and include your gums and tongue.
  2. Always brush gently – hard brushing can actually wear down your enamel!
  3. Opt for healthy fruits and veggies over sugary snacks, and water over sodas.
  4. Wear a mouth-guard for sports or strenuous activities to prevent accidental damage.
  5. Don’t skip your six-month exams and cleanings!

We Help You Keep Smiling!

You love your healthy smile, and we love helping you protect it. Dr. Tanaka and his team are ready to help you enjoy your smile for a lifetime with thorough cleanings and effective prevention. Schedule your appointment today!

CALL US: 808-737-6229 REQUEST APPOINTMENT


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