As with a physical exam, it is important that you schedule regular dental exams with your dentist. Dental exams are important for preventive health care, and your dentist will check for cavities, gum and teeth problems, as well as examine your mouth, face, and neck for abnormalities.
Going for regular dental exams or check-ups can help your dentist catch diseases early on. Plus, your dentist can provide you with tips on proper oral care, with the ultimate goal of saving all your teeth.
According to the American Dental Association, how often you should have a dental exam is dependent on the recommendation of your dentist. For those who no longer have their natural teeth, it is still important to go for regular dental exams to help them maintain their replacement teeth and overall oral health.
If you are anxious about your dental exam, do not fret. Here are the things you need to know about your dental exam.
1. Medical History. Your dentist will ask you about the following:
– Medications, vitamins, supplements, and other natural healing remedies you are currently taking
– If you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol
– If you have any allergies
– Previous experience with anesthesia, and if you had any adverse reaction to it
– Previous surgeries or hospitalizations
– Both previous and current medical conditions
2. Investigation. Your dentist will do the following:
– Examination. He or she will look at the surface of each tooth to check for cavities, calculus deposits, gum problems, and quality of existing fillings, which break down over time, and may require replacement or repair.
– X-rays. In some cases, X-rays may be required to check for abnormalities invisible to the naked eye. These can be full mouth X-rays or bitewings which are images of your molars and premolars.
– Periodontal probing. This is to ensure that you have healthy gums, and check for periodontal disease or bone loss.
– Oral prophylaxis. Also known as dental cleaning, this procedure entails your dentist cleaning your teeth and gums of bacteria, plaque, and stains.
– Polishing. Your dentist will apply toothpaste or a mixture of water and baking soda after gently polishing your teeth. It will be followed by a fluoride treatment.
3. Consultation. At this stage, your dentist will talk to you about his or her findings and concerns, and discuss a treatment plan for you. If there are any problematic issues, or if more complicated work is required, your dentist will refer you to a specialist.
Your dental hygienist will give recommendations based on your individual needs. For example, if you are a smoker or a diabetic, your dentist will suggest that you undergo professional cleaning every six months or even as often as every two months. If you tend to grind your teeth, your dentist might suggest that you get a mouth guard to protect your teeth as you sleep.
At the end of the dental exam, your dentist will provide you with a goody bag filled with tools to promote at-home oral health practices. These may include:
– Rubber tip stimulator
– Tongue cleaner