Sure, you see your dentist every six months like clockwork. You get your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist and then your dentist gives you a dental exam. Then you probably get your new toothbrush and say sayonara for another six months.
But what just happened? Although you’ve likely had countless dental exams, you may not understand exactly what your dentist is doing – besides staring in to your mouth. So let’s talk about the various stages and purposes of your exam.
The Dental Exam
Before your dentist even asks you to open your mouth, he or she should ask you if you have any current concerns or problems. You may want to tell your dentist if you’ve had any medical issues this year – regardless of whether you think they have anything to do with your teeth. Be sure to let your dentist know if you’re experiencing any pain or sensitivity in your mouth.
Your dental exam will likely include dental x-rays. The x-rays can help to identify bone loss, tooth decay, cavities and abscesses. Your insurance likely covers one full mouth x-ray set per year, but if you’re experiencing a specific problem, it might be necessary to take additional images.
Your dentist will then perform a visual oral exam. In doing so, he or she can identify any areas of your mouth that need treatment or attention. Using an instrument called an explorer, your dentist will check for tooth decay and cavities as well as measure your gum tissue. This can help determine whether you’re at risk for gum disease, called gingivitis.
Part of your dental exam will include a cancer screening. Your dentist will look inside your mouth to determine whether there are any concerning issues – like lumps, lesions or discolorations. You may require a biopsy if anything suspicious is found.
While your dental exam is a quick and easy part of your day, it can help you catch dental issues before they progress and keep your smile more beautiful than ever! Call us to schedule your dental exam today.