What Happens During a Dental Exam, And How Often Should You Have It?

What Happens During a Dental Exam, And How Often Should You Have It?

May 17, 2022

Regular dental assessments play an essential role in maintaining good oral hygiene and health. Unfortunately, millions of Americans don’t see a dentist yearly unless they have a serious dental issue. Dental experts recommend having at least two dental exams every year. Regular dental checkups can help detect dental problems early enough when treatment is likely to be more effective, less costly, and simpler.

Regular dental checkups also help prevent potential issues such as teeth loss from developing. Visit our dental office in Great Neck, NY, for dental exams and cleanings near you.

What to Expect During Dental Exams?

If you haven’t had a dental exam in a while or ever, here is what to expect:

  • Medical History

Your dentist will begin by asking you about your medical history in your first appointment. They might ask you about your existing medications and health issues like diabetes, gum disease, stroke, and heart problems. This information will help your dentist know how to effectively treat your dental issues.

  • Physical Exam

After learning about your health information, the dentist will perform a visual and physical examination of your gums, teeth, jawbone, and mouth. The dentist mainly checks for enamel erosion, cavities, gum disease, jawbone damage, oral infections, dental damage, etc. The dentist will also look for signs of teeth grinding, such as worn-out grooves of the back teeth.

  • Dental x-rays

If necessary, your dentist will perform dental x-rays to better view issues that are not visible to the naked eyes. Dental exams effectively spot tooth decay, jaw problems, and gum infection. Early detection of such issues is essential for effective and fast treatment.

  • Oral cancer screening

Most dentists include oral cancer screening as part of your routine dental exam. Oral cancer might not show any serious or painful signs in its early stages. For instance, it can begin as a pimple, which many people ignore.

Your dentist will check for these warning signs of oral cancer in your throat, neck, head, and mouth. These signs can include lesions, unexplained bleeding, bad breath, blocked salivary glands, painful sores and ulcers that don’t heal, etc.

  • Professional cleaning and polishing

A dental exam also includes a thorough cleaning by your dentist or hygienist. According to research, professional cleaning is more effective than home cleaning and can decrease the risk of tooth decay by 40%.

The dentist begins by scraping off tartar, plaque, and bacteria from your teeth and along the gum line. Next, they clean, floss, and rinse your mouth thoroughly. Lastly, the dentist will polish your teeth to give them a smooth and shiny finish.

  • Dental fluoride and dental sealants

If you’re at a higher risk of cavities, your dentist will recommend preventive measures such as fluoride treatment and dental sealants.

  • Results and advice

Once the exam is complete, your dentist will share the results. The dentist will give you important tips to care for your mouth for optimal health. If any issues such as gum disease or cavities are detected, your dentist will create a treatment plan to address the issue.

In some cases, the dentist can suggest additional examination or refer you to a specialist when the exam results need further review.

How Often Should You Visit the Dentist?

Dental experts recommend having at least two dental exams per year if your overall health is good. People with underlying conditions or at a high risk of developing oral issues may need to visit the dentist more than twice per year. These include:

  • Smokers
  • Pregnant women
  • Diabetics
  • People with gum disease
  • People with a weak immune system
  • People prone to cavities and other oral issues

Consult with your dentist to know exactly when you should have your dental exams. For more information about dental exams and cleaning in Great Neck, NY, contact Great Neck Dental Associates.

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