Dental Exams and Check-Ups
A comprehensive dental exam will be performed at your initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, we will perform 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.
- 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 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.
How Important is Oral Hygiene?
Oral hygiene is necessary for eliminating bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria builds to form plaque that can harden and lead to long-term ailments such as gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, and periodontal disease if it is not removed. A good dental care routine and regular check ups will keep your mouth healthy and prevent inflammation, infection, decay, and tooth loss.
Why Get a Dental Exam?
Dental exams give us the opportunity to evaluate your current methods of dental care and provide suggestions for future care in order to protect you from complications such as cavities and gum disease. They also allow us to detect problems early so they can be fixed quickly and easily.
How Often Should You Get a Dental Exam?
Dental exams should generally take place every six months. However, consult with our team to decide how often you should be examined, for we may suggest that you visit more frequently based on factors such as smoking, frequency of cavities and genetic susceptibility to tooth and root decay as well as gum disease.
What Can I Expect From a Dental Exam?
At a typical dental exam, our team will thoroughly clean your teeth, removing any surface stains or deposits, called tartar or calculus, that are more difficult to remove than plaque and require the assistance of professional dental instruments. We will also check for signs of decay or gum disease. An X-ray may be performed to provide a more detailed summary of your oral health and to more closely identify any problems. We will ask you questions about your current methods of dental care, such as how often you brush your teeth, and floss, as well as whether you use a toothpaste with fluoride. With this information in mind, we will demonstrate proper dental care and provide suggestions on how to improve your habits to promote optimal oral health.
How Can You Prepare For a Dental Exam?
The best way to prepare for a dental exam is to practice good dental care. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day is recommended. Be sure to clean your teeth before you arrive at your appointment. Our team will be cleaning your teeth for you, but it is helpful to remove food and plaque beforehand so we can focus on the more difficult-to-clean areas. You also want to make sure you are prepared to share pertinent information such as your medical history, insurance coverage and current dental care methods with us. Don’t be embarrassed to be honest about your oral health habits – our team is not here to judge you, but to work with you to improve your habits and ensure dental health! Lastly, be prepared to schedule a follow-up appointment or future check-up at the end of your dental exam.
Dental Radiographs (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 can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are Dental X-rays Safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.
Dental X-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking Dental X-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each X-ray.
How Often should Dental X-rays Be Taken?
The need for Dental X-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. We will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for the disease.
A full mouth series of Dental X-rays are recommended for new patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing X-rays (x-rays of the 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.