In general, dentistry is intended to be a preventive practice. In order to maintain good oral and dental health, you will need to abide by a regular schedule of dental exams. This allows our dentist to not only check for and treat any dental health issues that have arisen as early as possible, it also allows us to perform oral cancer screenings.
When visiting our office for the first time, you will be asked a number of questions regarding any past dental care that you’ve received. You may also need to provide our office of a list of any chronic medical conditions you are receiving treatment for, as well as a list of current medications that you are taking. You will then be given a brief exam to determine if you have any obvious dental issues. Your teeth will be professional cleaned, and you will have a set of dental x-rays taken that will be used as a baseline for identifying any future dental issues.
Dental x-rays help the dentist to see areas of tooth decay or damage to the teeth that would not otherwise be easily visible. This includes tooth abscesses that have formed near the tooth root, decay or build up between teeth, or damage to any old fillings or other dental restorations that you may have received prior to visiting our office.
Dental Exam Procedures
In most cases, a dental exam will not be painful, and there is no reason to be nervous. Our dentist will carefully check your teeth and gums for any sign of damage or tooth decay, as well as periodontal disease or gum recession. The dentist will also carefully check to ensure that your jaws are properly aligned and that you are not experiencing any problems with your bite.
The dental exam also gives our dentist the opportunity to perform an oral cancer screening. Though it is one of the least talked about forms of the disease, nearly 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. As with other cancers, early detection and treatment is key to achieving a positive outcome. The dentist will carefully check your gums, tongue, cheeks, and palate for any lesions or other signs that you may have developed oral cancer during your dental exam.
What if something is wrong?
If our dentist finds any dental issues such as cavities or signs or gum disease, a treatment plan will be developed. In some cases, you may be advised to alter your brushing or flossing technique. If you experience chronic tooth sensitivity, the dentist may recommend a particular toothbrush or toothpaste that can help with these issues.
What if I’m nervous?
It is normal to experience a little anxiety when visiting the dentist’s office, but there is no need to be afraid or nervous. Like other medical practitioners, the dentist is there to help you and to ensure your best health. Dentists are trained professionals and it is our goal to ensure that all of our patients are as comfortable as possible during each visit and any dental treatments or procedures they may receive while in our office. It is vital to maintaining good dental and overall health that you do not allow your nervousness prevent you from visiting our office. Studies have shown that poor dental health can lead to an increased risk for health issues such as heart attack and stroke.
How often should I visit my dentist?
For most patients, the American Dental Association recommends maintaining a bi-annual schedule of visits to our office in order to maintain your best oral health. Even if you have excellent dental hygiene and don’t believe you are experiencing any dental issues, it is important to come in for regular cleanings and check ups to prevent any issues from developing in the first place. If your dental health is particularly good, our dentist may recommend that you visit us only once a year.
In some cases, you may be asked to return for checkups more often. This usually occurs if you’ve had a dental restoration or specific risk factors that make you more likely to develop dental disease in the future. This includes:
- Patients who smoke
- Patients who have diabetes
- Patients who have been diagnosed with gum disease
- Patients who are known to have a weak immune response to bacterial infection
- Patients with dry mouth, or who are prone to frequent cavities or plaque buildup
- Patients suffering from chronic stress or illness.
It is likely that the frequency of your required visits to our office will shift over time. Contact our office today to schedule a visit, and be sure to follow the directions given by our dentist when it comes to scheduling your regular cleanings and check ups.