Great dental health starts with regular dental exams with your dentist! We call this preventative care, and it’s the key to long term oral health.
Health experts recommend that most patients get their teeth examined and cleaned by their dentist every 6 months. This is important because if you keep these appointments, any issues you have can be caught early, meaning they won’t grow into larger, hard-to-fix problems.
What Should I Expect at My Dental Exam?
What will the process be like? If it’s your first time with us, or you haven’t had an exam in awhile, we’ll ask you to complete some forms about your medical history. This will include any diseases or medical problems you’ve had, any problems relatives of yours have had that may indicate increased susceptibility to things such as gum disease and oral cancer, and any medicines you currently take (prescription and over-the-counter).
A complete initial exam involves an appropriate number of x-rays. Depending on the issues that we see, we may take different types of x-rays or more x-rays, including:
- Panoramic x-rays (you sit or stand still while an x-ray machine takes a number of x-rays while moving around your head)
- Bitewing x-rays, which are to detect cavities between the teeth
- Periapical x-rays, which are to help the dentist see the bone and root tips of a particular tooth.
- Full mouth series of x-rays, which includes all of the above and maybe necessary to complete a thorough exam.
Your initial exam also involves having your dentist do a close up look into your mouth to check for any signs of pathology or irregularity. Each individual tooth is also examined and evaluated for treatment.
We will present you with a treatment plan at the end of your exam. This treatment plan may be as simple as needing a cleaning (which is normally performed in the same visit) or it may involve more procedures that will be discussed with you in detail so you understand all your options. A written consent is necessary before any procedure outside of the preventive procedures are started.
At your six-month checkup, your dental hygienist will clean your teeth, and they will likely discuss your diet with you and how your diet and lifestyle may be affecting your oral health. Periodically, you may get x-rays to assess whether any teeth may be developing cavities inside the teeth or in between teeth. The dentist will come in to talk with you about how you’re doing and any issues with your teeth. The dentist will check for early signs of gum disease, and thoroughly examine your teeth. Finally, if we determine that you are at increased risk of problems such as gum disease, cavities, or oral cancer, we may recommend that you schedule oral examinations even more often than twice a year to prevent future problems.
How Many Dental Exams Should I Get?
The standard patient receives two exams annually. However, if you are receiving orthodontic treatment, your exams may be increased to monitor your treatment’s progress. Other factors may also require patients to have more than two dental exams per year:
- At risk for oral cancer. View our oral cancer screening page for at-risk groups.
- Diabetic patients: Maintaining dental health will help will overall health.
- Patients who are prone to cavities.
- Patients who have not been to the dentist in some time and need extra attention to restore their oral health.
- Patients with over- or under-bite issues.