Why should you have a dental exam?
Thoughts of drilling and pain have driven people away from regular check ups, and as a result, many people only visit the dentist when they feel pain, or think something is seriously wrong. Regular visits to the dentist will help diagnose a problem early and can prevent the need for invasive dental procedures. A simple, painless dental exam can really be the difference between great oral health and complicated, expensive dental work.
Some of the issues that can be detected early during a dental checkup include tooth decay, cavities, gum diseases, and oral cancer. Finding and fixing these problems early increase a dentists ability to successfully treat these conditions but also saves the patient money over time.
Dental exams are an essential part of your preventative oral care.
These exams are the best time for your dentist to catch the earliest signs of tooth decay and gum disease and to ensure that you are armed and empowered with the knowledge you need to maintain a healthy smile for the rest of your life!
How often should you have a dental exam?
Your dentist will use the information gathered during your regular check ups to develop a individualized schedule for regular maintenance, cleaning, and additional check-ups.
For the most part, patients in good oral health, can expect to see their dentist every six months. But patients with certain oral health deficiencies, or those with high-risk factors for future gum/periodontal problems, your dentist may suggest more frequent follow ups to address these specific concerns.
To wrap up, how often you’ll need to visit your dentist will greatly depend on how healthy your gums and teeth are and the potential risk for future problems.
What to expect during a routine dental exam
Your general dentist takes the lead in your dental exam. During the exam you can expect guidance and input from your dental assistant and a dental hygienist if a teeth cleaning is scheduled.
Here’s a detailed look at the general procedure and steps of a routine dental exam.
1. Medical History Intake
When you arrive at our dentist office, expect the dentist to ask a few questions that will help them understand more about your oral health. During this conversation you will want to offer information about any medications you’re currently taking, possible healing remedies currently in progress, allergies, and whether you smoke or consume alcohol. All this information helps better prepare our team for possible causes to what they’ll find during the exam.
The dentist will also ask if you have any ongoing medical conditions, as we want to safely treat you. If this is your first visit, our dentist will also talk to you about your previous dental treatment procedures, surgeries, and your experience with anesthesia. With all this information, the dentist will be able to make an essential first step towards establishing a sound treatment plan.
2. Investigation and exam
After collecting all the information needed, the dentist will move to the second step, which involves a thorough investigation of your teeth, gums, jaw, and supporting structures. Here are what dentists use and look for during the examination.
X-ray machines are essential and are commonly used to detect dental abnormalities that are not visible to naked eyes. The dentist will first take full mouth X-rays before ‘spot checking’ specific problem areas in future visits. X-rays are not generally required at every dental exam. Although exposure to radiation from X-rays is low, you should speak to your dentist if you have concerns about radiation exposure.
4. Dental Cleaning
When performing a check-up, your dentist will get rid of tartar that frequently forms on teeth and under the gum. Many dentists now use ultrasonic cleaning equipment during a dental cleaning. After scaling away the tartar, the dentist will polish your teeth and will recommend proper brushing and flossing techniques that will help you maintain oral hygiene.
5. Examine the Results
After tartar removal, the dentist will conduct a dental exam using both visual and X-rays results to check if there are more dental defects and will also evaluate your risks for future dental abnormalities.
Oral Cancer Screening
The increasing number of oral cancer cases has prompted many dentists to include an oral cancer screening during dental exams. Oral cancer is a serious problem and can occur in various ways. If not detected early, oral cancer can quickly spread and become life-threatening.
An early oral cancer diagnosis, however, is often beneficial since it is easily treatable. Modern dentists are highly trained to detect early signs and the likelihood of detecting the disease in time is dramatically higher. Your dentist will examine the area surrounding your jaws and also the soft tissues in your mouth for signs of oral cancer.
How do you prepare for a dental exam?
Now, with a greater understanding of the procedure of dental exams, it’s clear there is nothing to fear when going in for a routine dental check-up. In preparation for your dental exam, you only need to know your medical history, radiation history, and allergies before visiting your dentist. These exams can be the difference between the need for invasive dental procedures, and a future of straightforward visits to the dentist.
Not regularly visiting your dentist may not seem like a big deal, but oral problems can develop and spread quickly if you don’t notice them on time. Following a schedule of regular cleanings and dental exams will save you time, money, and potential oral health issues in the future. In addition, missing a follow-up appointment can result in major dental issues. Stephanie Murphy DDS has an office in Milwaukee that can help ensure your oral health is on the right track with regular check-ups. Schedule an appointment with our qualified dentist today.