March 13, 2023
You don’t have to be at the dental office in Murfreesboro, TN, every week. According to the ADA, you can maintain good oral health by visiting once every six months. However, this rule doesn’t apply to all. The frequency of your visits depends on your current oral health status.
People with dental problems must see the dentist more often for monitoring. One of the reasons patients are afraid to see their dentist for annual exams is that they don’t know what will happen once they sit on the dental chair. What happens during a dental exam, and how can you benefit from it?
What You Should Know
What Happens During an Oral Exam?
Annual dental exams are critical in maintaining healthy smiles. During the examination, your dentist will ask you to open your mouth so they can carefully assess your teeth, gums, and oral tissues for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, lesions, and other abnormalities. What can you expect during a dental exam appointment?
Visual Inspection – Your dentist will inspect all areas of your mouth to check for signs of trouble, such as enamel wear and tear, cavities, tooth decay, missing teeth, etc. In addition, they’ll also check your gums for signs of inflammation or infection, such as bleeding, swelling, and red gums. The insides of your cheeks, tongue, and roof of your mouth are all included in the inspection.
Probing – If your dentist suspects gum disease, they’ll use a dental probe to measure the pockets between your teeth and gums. A person with healthy gums will only have a pocket depth between one and three millimeters. People with periodontitis usually have gum pockets beyond four millimeters deep. When pockets are deeper than 5 mm, routine care cannot adequately clean them.
X-Rays – Sometimes, your dentist may request X-rays after visual inspection and probing to get a more detailed image of your teeth and jawbone. X-rays can help detect problems such as impacted teeth, jawbone problems, and cavities.
Bite Evaluation - Your dentist will also check your bite to ensure that your teeth are coming together properly. Bite misalignment can cause issues such as tooth grinding, jaw pain, and headaches.
Oral Cancer Screening - During an oral examination, your dentist will also check for any signs and symptoms of oral cancer. This can include inspecting the tongue, the back of the throat, and other areas of the mouth for any unusual lumps, bumps, or lesions.
Existing Restorations - Your dentist will also check any existing dental restorations, such as fillings or crowns, to ensure they are in good shape and not causing any issues.
Final Diagnosis - Once the oral examination is complete, your dentist will make a final diagnosis and provide recommendations for treatment if necessary. This can include anything from a simple filling to more extensive treatment like a root canal or dental implant.
It's important to note that during the oral examination, your dentist or hygienist may also provide recommendations for improving your oral hygiene routine or suggest changes to your diet or lifestyle to improve your oral health.
Overall, a dental exam is necessary to achieve good oral health. By identifying issues early on, you can avoid more serious (and expensive) problems down the road. Be sure to schedule regular dental exams with your dentist and follow their recommendations for caring for your teeth and gums at home.
What Are the Benefits of Routine Oral Exams?
Regular dental exams play a crucial role in preventing dental issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer and help maintain the overall health and function of your teeth and gums. Additionally, these exams allow your dentist to educate you on proper oral hygiene practices, discuss any concerns you may have, and offer advice on how to keep your mouth healthy between visits.
Learning about the benefits of oral exams is essential to motivate you to show up for your scheduled appointments. The following are some of the perks of routine oral exams:
Problems Are Caught Early
Oral exams allow your dentist to check your mouth for potential problems and take preventive measures to avoid expensive treatments. For example, they can detect and treat early cavities and gum disease before they become irreversible.
Get Advice on Oral Care
Although you can find information on the Internet, nothing beats advice from your dentist, who has spent years specializing in improving oral health. During your visits, you’ll get your mouth checked and learn the proper ways to care for your teeth and gums at home. Your dentist can teach you the correct method of brushing and flossing and recommend teeth-cleaning products that you can use to boost your oral health.
Whiten Your Teeth
Did you know you can save money on professional teeth whitening if you see your dentist for regular in-office teeth cleanings? Every time you visit the dental office, the appointment includes cleaning and polishing your teeth.
Over time, plaque and tartar will build up on the surface of your teeth and along the gumline, dulling your smile. Unfortunately, only your dentist can effectively remove tartar.
Your dentist will use tools to scrape off surface stains, plaque, and tartar, revealing a brighter and healthier smile.
Monitor Your Condition
If you have existing oral health concerns, attending regular oral exams is especially important to manage them better. These appointments allow you to get a status report of your condition and your progress with your treatment. It’s also an opportunity to discuss with your dentist what steps to take moving forward.
Update Your Records
Your dental health records are updated every time you visit your dentist. With complete oral health information, your dentist can create a more accurate diagnosis of your condition. It is also helpful to keep records of your oral health in case of an emergency or if you have to switch dentists in the future.
Avoid Expensive Procedures
Oral exams are part of preventive dental care. Investing in your oral health will prevent serious dental issues that can be costly to treat.
What Are the Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Exams?
Why Do I Need Regular Dental Exams?
Regular dental exams are important because they allow your dentist to find dental problems during their early stages before they become more serious and require more extensive treatment.
How Often Should I Have a Dental Exam?
Most people should have a routine dental exam every 6-12 months, depending on their individual needs and risk factors for oral health issues. People with a history of gum disease or other oral health issues may need more frequent exams.
Children should also have regular oral exams starting at a young age, as early as six months old. This can help detect any issues early on and establish good oral hygiene habits.
Will I Experience Any Pain During a Dental Exam?
Generally, patients do not complain of pain during a dental exam. However, if you experience discomfort or sensitivity in your mouth, let your dentist or hygienist know so they can take steps to minimize your discomfort.
If you feel pain during an exam, your dentist or hygienist can provide local anesthesia to numb the examined area. They may also offer sedation options for patients who experience anxiety or fear during dental appointments.
What Happens if My Dentist Finds an Issue During My Exam?
When your dentist finds an issue during your dental exam, they will make a diagnosis and provide treatment recommendations based on the severity of the problem.
For example, if your dentist finds a cavity, they may recommend a simple filling. A filling involves removing the decayed part of the tooth and filling the space with a material such as composite resin or amalgam. If left untreated, a cavity can progress to the point where a root canal or extraction is necessary, which is a more extensive and expensive treatment.
Similarly, if your dentist finds that you have advanced gum disease, they may recommend deep cleaning or scaling and root planing. If left untreated, gum disease will inevitably result in tooth loss and other more serious health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.
What Can I Do to Prepare for a Dental Exam?
Dental exams don't require much preparation. However, let your dentist or hygienist know if you have any concerns about your oral health.
It's also wise to brush and floss your teeth regularly before your exam. Ensuring your teeth and gums are healthy can help make the exam more effective.
Schedule Your Routine Oral Exam With Us
Regular dental exams are for your own good. They are necessary to keep your smile beautiful and your mouth healthy. Furthermore, dental exams help prevent more serious dental problems in the future.
During a dental exam, your dentist can find early signs of cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer and provide personalized advice on maintaining good oral hygiene. If your dentist discovers an issue during your exam, it's important to follow their recommendations for treatment to prevent the problem from becoming more serious.
So if you haven't had a dental exam in a while or are experiencing any dental problems, don't wait - schedule an appointment with your dentist.
At Stonetrace Family Dental, we offer a wide range of dental treatments for you and your family to help you reach your dental goals. You can count on our skilled and experienced team to provide you with the best care. Our commitment to giving our patients a positive and comfortable experience sets us apart. Contact us for a consultation.