Dental exams are an essential piece of preventative dentistry. Since most oral health problems are preventable and best treated as early as possible, it’s vital to see your dentist for regular evaluations and x-rays. That way, you can intervene early with dental problems, while they’re smaller(less damaging to your tooth) and more affordable to treat.
What Does a Dental Examination Consist Of?
A dental examination is usually combined with the regular “teeth cleaning” visit scheduled with dental hygienists. During the dental exam, your dentist will screen for gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer and ask about any underlying medical conditions. The dentist or dental hygienist may also want to discuss certain lifestyle factors as they affect dental health. Dental x-rays are taken to evaluate areas that aren’t visible to the naked eye.
Assessing for bone loss, periodontal disease, tooth decay, and other oral health issues is essential, as these issues can be present, but cause no symptoms or signs such as pain or discoloration.
How Long do Dental Exams Take?
A typical dental exam and dental hygiene appointment can last around 45-60 minutes. For a child, exams and cleanings tend to be shorter. The patient’s age, dental health, and frequency of regular dental exams can affect the appointment’s length.
Remember that as part of your checkup, your hygienist will also want to review things like brushing and flossing techniques to ensure you’re taking the best care of your teeth as possible.
How Often Should You Get a Dental Exam?
People with healthy teeth and gums are encouraged to book their dental hygiene visit depending on their needs, which your dentist and hygienist will let you know. The exam portion done by the dentist is typically done once yearly, but can differ depending on your needs. However, if you have continual dental health issues, your dentist may suggest more frequent dental care appointments. For instance, people with a history of underlying gum disease tend to respond better to dental care when they see their dental team for teeth cleaning as frequently as every 3-4 months.
Types of Dental Exams
Dentists provide different variations of dental exams, depending on the issue or problems the patient is experiencing.
Comprehensive exams are completed at your initial checkup and occasionally repeated every several years. They consist of a full mouth series of x-rays, oral cancer screening, gum disease evaluation, TMJ exam, review of underlying health problems, and thorough assessment of each of your teeth. The goal of a comprehensive exam is for dentists to establish a baseline reading of your entire mouth. That way, periodic exams can pinpoint changes in your health (such as gum disease).
Regular dental exams are typically referred to as a “recall” exam. These are the types of evaluations your dentist will complete during a routine hygiene visit. They allow your dentist to check for problems inside your mouth that may have developed since the last exam.
A limited exam is for specific problems related to your teeth. For example, if you have a severe toothache, sudden tooth loss, or a broken tooth, your dentist may need to order a single x-ray and then thoroughly evaluate that specific area of your mouth. They are not looking elsewhere or screening for problems in other teeth.
What is a Dental Recall Exam?
After your cleaning, the recall evaluation will be to check for any problems with your teeth or gums. If you have concerns about specific teeth, let your dentist know. As your dentist monitors changes from one visit to the next, they can help you address common concerns while also reducing your chances of disease complications.
Recall visits make up the majority of your oral health appointments. Unless you’re in pain, have a broken tooth, or are actively addressing a specific dental disease, most of your visits will consist of this type of encounter. Again, that’s because your oral health only changes slightly between sessions. Intercepting issues when they’re first visible can save both the integrity of your teeth as well as your budget!
Why Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned So Frequently?
When it comes to preventing stains, tartar buildup, and periodontal disease, regular cleanings are essential. Tartar buildup tends to be heaviest along your gums, but it also extends down underneath your soft tissues. If not removed regularly, the bacterial deposits can cause your gingiva (gums) to detach from the teeth and loss of the surrounding bone. Preventative cleanings can halt this cycle.
By the time you start to see heavy buildup on your teeth, you’re well past due for your dentist exam and cleaning.
But Nothing is Wrong
Again, the goal of regular visits is to keep it that way. As you’re better equipped with educational resources and best practices, you can play an active role in the integrity of your existing teeth. Skipping appointments because things seem “fine” can lead to a drastically higher cost of care in the future, especially in children, whose enamel is thinner and can decay at rapid rates. If nothing is wrong, we want to help you keep it that way!
Schedule Your Next Trip to Our Office
Parkdale Dental Centre prioritizes minimally-invasive and preventative care. Taking control over your wellness begins with finding a team you can trust. As we share our findings with you, you’ll play an integral co-planning role in future appointments. How long has it been since you last saw a dentist? Contact us today to reserve your first appointment!