Regularly taking dental examinations is an important step in preventative dental care. During a dental exam, your dentist will clean your teeth, check for cavities and look for signs of gum disease.
He will also assess your likelihood for developing certain diseases and abnormalities such as oral cancer. An exam for oral cancer is done by feeling under your jawline, your neck, the insides of your cheeks and lips, the roof of your mouth, your tongue and the floor of your mouth.
One of the main diagnostic procedures used in dental examinations is dental X-rays or radiographs. Without x-rays, it will be impossible to tell what’s going on in the underlying structure of your teeth. X-rays make it possible to detect problems such as tooth decay and cavities, abnormalities of the tooth root and damage to the bone.
Another area of concern that your dentist or oral hygienist will address during your dental examinations is your diet and oral hygiene practices. Other topics that you might discuss include lifestyle choices such as smoking, or your occupation and how it could be affecting your dental health. Finally, your dentist will talk about procedures for improving your teeth, both functionally and cosmetically.
Why dental examinations are done
Your oral health and overall well-being are dependent on dental exams. Though a dental exam, your dentist gets to help you improve how you care for your teeth. He will also detect dental and oral problems early which improves the chances of their treatability.
When you should have a dental examination
According to the American Dental Association, all adults should go through regular dental examinations at consistent intervals, as determined by their dentist.
Even people without natural teeth still need to consult their dentists about matters related to their oral health.
Preparing for a dental examination
Before you go in for a dental exam, particularly your first one, it’s normal to be anxious especially if you’re scared of the dentist’s chair. Talk over these concerns with your dentist and he’ll make the necessary adjustments to suit you.
You should look for a dentist who’s experienced in a wide field of dental procedures. This will prevent having to hop from one dentist to the next. It also ensures that the dentist you go to is covered by your health care plan.
What you should expect in a dental examination
In addition to performing the usual dental examination which includes taking x-rays, checking for bite problems, evaluating your oral hygiene, looking for signs of gum disease, cleaning your teeth and removing stains, your dentist will also inquire about the following:
- Medications you’re currently taking in order to assess the impact it could have on your oral health. For instance, medication that causes dry mouth could cause tooth decay.
- He’ll also assess how pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes put you at a higher risk for gum disease. If you have arthritis, this could interfere with how you brush your teeth.
- If you have dentures or bridges, your dentist will check their fit and whether they are the right quality. Poor quality or ill-fitting dentures could cause inflammation on your gums and bone damage.
After a dental examination
At the end of your exam, your dentist will advise you on oral health matters and ways to prevent oral health problems. He might also perform some procedures and recommend future follow up sessions.