When patients receive dental exams, there are a number of examinations and procedures that take place. When dentists perform a routine exam they are not only inspecting teeth. A dentist's examination ensures that the health of the entire mouth is assessed as well, with proper treatments administered where it is deemed necessary. At a minimum, a dentist will inspect the teeth, gums and oral cavity during an office visit.
Dental exams begin with a thorough cleaning by a dental hygienist, then teeth are thoroughly examined by the dentist. Using instruments such as a mirror and a flexible pick, often called an explorer, dentists inspect the enamel on each tooth, the integrity of current fillings in case they are in need of repair, as well as testing for signs of decay which would require new fillings.
Receiving an x-ray during dental exams is also standard procedure. For new patients, x-rays present a baseline image which can be used as a comparison if tooth problems arise in the future. During routine dental exams, an x-ray is used to inspect the health of tooth roots, the jaw as well as fillings.
Aside from the teeth and jaw being examined, dental exams thoroughly assess a patient's gums, looking for any signs of periodontal disease. Careful inspection and probing will look for any abnormalities such as swelling or gums pulling away from the tooth. Periodontal disease, in an advanced form, can produce serious problems such as tooth loss. Regular dental exams are important so that intervention and treatment can take place at the earliest sign of trouble.
Finally, dental exams provide assessment for more serious, potential problems. A dentist is first to notate when wisdom teeth might be causing problems, when a patient's jaw is showing signs of TMJ or when braces might be needed if the teeth are too crowded. A dental exam is also an excellent screening tool for more serious conditions, such as cancer. By inspecting oral tissue and lymph nodes routinely, dentists can be the first line of defense against fighting cancers of the mouth and neck.
If you have any questions regarding dental exams, or would like to schedule your next appointment, please call us at 409-835-6257. We look forward to seeing you!