Dental Examination 1

Dental Examination

While it is understandable that no individual is particularly comfortable with having someone poke around in their mouth, much of an individual’s real discomfort with dental examinations often has to do with the fact that they don’t necessarily understand exactly what is happening or why it is important. However, once one does understand the process and how it helps to protect and improve their oral health, they are often better able to comfortably participate in dental examinations.

What Happens During a Dental Examination

The entire purpose of a dental examination is to assess an individual’s overall oral health, and so that any issues can be detected and resolved early on. As part of this process, the dentist will:

  • Ask the patient for pertinent medical information. This can include a list of medications the patient is currently taking, a list vitamins or other natural remedies the patient is currently taking, any alcohol or tobacco consumption that is occurring, a list of allergies, the patient’s previous experiences with and reactions to anesthesia, any reactions the patient’s family members have had to anesthesia, any medical conditions the patient is suffering from and being treated for and any previous surgeries and hospitalizations the patient has had. This information is vital to the dentist as it will help them to take any necessary precautions while performing any sort of dental care or treatments.
  • Thoroughly examine the patient’s mouth. Every single visible surface of every single tooth will be examined in order to determine if there is any new tooth decay and to establish the condition of existing fillings, crowns or other dental work. Tooth decay that is caught early on can require less restorative treatment, and loose or damaged fillings that need to be replaced can be handled. The gums will be carefully examined in order to determine whether they are healthy and adhering tightly to the teeth. The dentist will also probe to measure each tooth and the strength of its supporting structure. Teeth that measure too long often indicate the presence of periodontal disease or bone loss that needs immediate address.
  • Request x-rays where necessary. Many dentists prefer for their patients to receive new x-rays at least once a year. This allows the dentist to fully evaluate the health of the patient’s teeth, roots and jaws as needed.
  • Clean the teeth. In some cases, dentists will perform the dental cleanings themselves, while in other cases they will have a professional dental hygienist perform the cleaning. During the cleaning, scalers are used to scrape the surface of each tooth in order to remove plaque and tartar. Then, an abrasive toothpaste is used to thoroughly clean and polish the surfaces of each tooth. After rinsing out the mouth, the dentist or dental hygienist may recommend a fluoride treatment to help further protect the patient’s teeth from decay.
  • Educate the patient about any issues that were noted and about proper oral hygiene. If immediate treatment is necessary to resolve an issue, the dentist will explain to the patient what is occurring and why the recommended treatment will be able to effectively address the issue. They will also advise the patient in how often they should return for professional dental cleanings. In most cases, bi-annual cleanings are sufficient, but in some cases–such as when the individual is a smoker or diabetic–more frequent cleanings may be necessary. The dentist will also ensure that the individual knows to brush and floss their teeth daily and how to properly do so. Finally, the dentist may broach the subject of nutrition, as proper nutrition can help to support good oral health and poor nutrition can contribute to oral health issues.

At the conclusion of the dental examination, many dentists prepare a small take-home bag for their patients. Included in this take-home bag may be a new toothbrush, some floss, a trial-size toothpaste and any other thing the dentist feels may help improve and protect the patient’s oral health. When the individual leaves the dentist office, they should be better protected against oral health issues and therefore less likely to have to return to the dentist’s office for costly restorative dental care, which should help to put a bright, healthy smile on their face.


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