Getting a dental implant is typically a multistep procedure that involves different stages of surgery and healing. However, there are special circumstances that sometimes allow an implant and crown to be placed on the same day. While there are risks associated with doing the procedure all at once, for those who have good oral and…
What To Expect During a Dental Exam
Catching issues with the teeth or gums early on is essential for mitigating the amount of damage sustained, which is why scheduling a regular dental exam is so important. From identifying signs of gum disease and tooth decay to discovering problematic abnormalities, dentists use the knowledge gleaned from regular examinations to develop any necessary treatment plans and provide individualized instruction on oral hygiene. The Cleveland Clinic recommends two dental visits a year for most people to undergo a thorough cleaning and evaluation of their teeth and help discover any problems before they develop into serious conditions.
What to expect at a dental exam
Most often, a dental appointment starts with professional teeth cleaning performed by the dental hygienist and is followed by an examination from the dentist. During the cleaning process, the hygienist will also inspect the patient’s mouth and let the dentist know if any issues are found. Depending on the patient’s age and risk level, an X-ray may be taken, which the dentist can use to identify issues that cannot be discovered by visual inspection of the mouth alone. During the exam, the dentist will use special tools, such as a periodontal probe, to examine each of the individual's teeth, gums, jaw and supporting bones. The dentist will also inquire about the patient’s medical history and ask questions concerning oral health habits.
Identifying dental Issues
During a dental exam, the practitioner makes a detailed inspection for signs of several common dental problems:
- Tooth decay or cavities
- Tooth infection
- Oral abnormalities
- Gum disease
- Enamel degradation
- Receding gum lines
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
If there is a lot of plaque or tartar buildup on the teeth, or if the gums are inflamed, the dentist can provide helpful advice on developing better dental habits and preventing issues. Additionally, many dentists have started looking for signs of oral cancer due to the growing prevalence of the condition. This type of examination is especially important for patients who drink or smoke. Screening for oral cancers often involves searching for any bumps or discoloration in the jaw and soft tissues of the mouth.
Addressing dental issues
If any issues are found during the examination, the dentist will likely let the patient know during the appointment and determine if any further tests need to be done. Patients with a high risk of oral health problems may need to return for a follow-up appointment. Depending on what issues are found, the dentist may need to make a consultation appointment to discuss a treatment plan. Dentists can also use X-rays and inspections to discover issues with the teeth or jaw that need to be addressed with braces or surgery. While the dentist cannot address these issues, a referral to an orthodontist or oral surgeon can be made.
Making appointments twice a year for a dental exam allows patients to develop better oral hygiene habits and discover any issues that may be present. While it may be easy to neglect regularly visiting the dentist, this increases the risk of dental issues occurring.
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