Two key elements of effective oral health care are comprehensive dental exams and professional dental cleanings every six months. While most patients of the Santa Monica family dentist are aware of the importance of these appointments, but may not know exactly what is involved in a comprehensive dental exam and cleaning.

The following is a brief summary of the steps that we take during your six-month checkups.

Dental Exam

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will include the following:

  • Check for tooth decay: All tooth surfaces should be checked for decay or changes since the last visit.
  • Examine existing restorations: Check the condition of current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Gum disease evaluation: It is essential to check the gums and bone surrounding the teeth for signs of periodontal disease.
  • Diagnostic x-rays: This step is essential for detecting decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays will also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Oral cancer screening: Your dentist should check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.

Professional Dental Cleaning

Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) will be performed by your dentist or a skilled dental hygienist. Appointments for cleanings include:

  • Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky film that coats your teeth and is made up of bacteria, food debris, and saliva. If plaque isn’t removed with oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings, it continues to feed on the sugars in your mouth and produces acid that attacks dental and causes cavities.
  • Removal of calculus (tartar): When plaque remains on teeth, it hardens and forms a hard deposit known as tartar or calculus. Since tartar is calcified and adheres to the teeth above and below the gum line, it can only be removed with special dental instruments.
  • Teeth polishing: Polishing is the final step in the process of your professional cleaning and removes stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.

Please Call Us for an Appointment

If it’s time for your next routine exam and cleaning, please call the Santa Monica family dentist to arrange an appointment.


As you age, it's natural for the brightness of your smile to fade; it's just a fact of aging. But professional teeth whitening treatment with the Santa Monica teeth whitening dentist will restore your fresh, youthful appearance in just a matter of weeks.

There are many whitening treatments to choose from. We offer customized take-home whitening kits because we have found that using them consistently over a period of several weeks produces the most dramatic results.

Customized Teeth Whitening Options

The fastest way to see the most noticeable results in the shortest amount of time is to choose a customized in-office treatment with a knowledgeable cosmetic dentist. There are generally two options to choose from when considering teeth whitening.

The first option is an in-office whitening procedure. This is the fastest way to see the results you want because treatment usually takes an hour or less, making in-office whitening a great lunch-hour procedure!

The second option is customized take-home whitening kits. We start by taking highly-accurate impressions of your teeth that are used to create a whitening tray that perfectly covers your teeth and protects tender gum tissue during the whitening process.

Once the trays have been finished, you will wear them using the whitening solution provided by our dentist. Solutions vary by strength, and you will receive specific instructions on how long and how often they should be worn. We typically recommend 20 to 30 minutes per day for a period of two to three weeks.

Combatting Tooth Sensitivity

If you've tried whitening in the past and you experienced sensitivity, please let us know. We can customize the strength of your whitening gel to ensure that this isn't a problem. There's no reason to experience discomfort just because you want a more beautiful smile!

Remember that teeth whitening is not permanent, especially if you are doing it yourself at home. You will probably need to do frequent touch-ups if you are a smoker or drink a lot of coffee or red wine.

Please Contact Our Office for a Brighter Smile!

Would you like to learn more about customized whitening options with the Santa Monica, CA teeth whitening dentist? Please call our office today, and we’ll have you on your way to a brighter smile in no time!


At Carol E. Follette DDS, we take great pride in providing our customers with a first-class teeth whitening experience. Nothing beats a bright, healthy smile, and our team offers professional support and insight before, during, and after your visit. Today we’re focusing on the “after” part of a whitening treatment – specifically, preventative care that ensures your terrific smile lasts a long, long time.

Brush Your Teeth Properly

A teeth whitening treatment comes with a big boost of confidence and increased self-esteem, but don’t let post-whitening euphoria distract you from the most important step in maintaining you fresh new smile: brushing your teeth. It’s a good idea to brush not just in the morning and at night, but also after every meal. This is especially important if you’re in the habit of having a glass of wine for dinner, coffee at breakfast, and a soda every now and then during lunch. These beverages are notorious teeth-stainers, and certain foods we eat can also cause staining. Your best bet after having your teeth whitened is to increase, and not decrease, your brushing habits.

Less Drinking and Smoking

If you’ve spent any time around our teeth whitening dentist, you’ve no doubt heard us discuss the negative effects that alcohol and smoking can have on your teeth. If you look at your teeth whitening procedure as an investment, it should be easy to find the motivation to at least reduce your alcohol intake and smoking, if not remove them entirely from your daily life (especially the smoking). The nicotine in tobacco and the tannins in wine and other alcoholic drinks can reverse the effects of even the most comprehensive tooth-whitening procedure.

Use a Straw

Drinks like soda, iced tea, and anything else fizzy contains caffeine, tannins, and other chemicals that can stain your teeth. But when you drink these beverages through a straw, you greatly reduce the contact that these chemicals have with your teeth. A big gulp of iced tea or lemonade on a hot day can be hugely rewarding, but switching to a straw is a great way to keep your teeth as white as can be.

Choose Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpastes aren’t just a marketing ploy – they actually work. The bleaching agents in these products, while not highly concentrated, is definitely enough to oxidize/remove stains from teeth. When you regularly use a whitening toothpaste, you’re able to consistently break down any stains on your teeth before they become too ingrained. The stains are brushed away and your teeth stay white, just the way you like them.

Opt For Smudge-Proof Lipstick

Although lipstick smudging happens less frequently than it did a couple of decades ago, there are still some lipsticks on the market whose composition makes them liable to stick to a person’s teeth. And in some cases, the pigments in the lipstick can cause discoloration. We recommend staying on the safe side and choosing smudge-proof lipstick.

Make an Appointment Today

Carol E. Follette is a cosmetic dentist that countless California residents rely on for teeth whitening, veneers, family dentistry, and much more. Make an appointment today and trust your smile to our capable team.