The word dentist sends shivers down most peoples’ spine, but dentist visits aren’t that bad when you think about it. Because of the dentists, most of us can afford beautiful smiles that boost our confidence and self-esteem. Dental visits also promote good oral health and prevent a myriad of periodontal diseases. Did you know that about one hundred million Americans don’t visit their dentists every year? That means no dentist appointments, no dental exams, not even a friendly courtesy call.
For strong and healthy teeth, you should consider visiting a dentist once in six months or twice if you have issues with your teeth. If you have an upcoming dental exam, you probably have a lot running through your mind.
The prospect of someone poking the inside of your mouth with sharp metal objects doesn’t sit too well with most folks. However, in practice, there’s nothing much to worry about. Let’s look at what to expect from a dental exam.
The Initial Exam
What procedures happen during a dental visit?
If it’s your first dental exam at Brushin’ on Belmont, your doctor will start with an initial exam. The initial exam tries to identify any obvious dental issues without the use of specialized dental equipment. If you have a toothache, the dentists address the pain first before they proceed.
You can think of the initial exam as the warm-up before the actual exam. Here, the dentist conducts a comprehensive inspection of your teeth, tongue, and mouth. A routine dental checkup procedure involves:
Records evaluation: This only applies to former patients. The doctor will examine your medical records, dental health concerns, and diet.
Dental health evaluation: The dentist will examine your oral cavity for tooth decay risk and signs of periodontal diseases like TMJ disease and the likes.
Check for cavities: The dentist check for any signs of holes on the teeth or around a previous filling.
Oral hygiene lesson: The dentist will teach you the proper ways to keep your mouth clean so you can have strong, healthy teeth.
Stain removal: The dentist removes any stains or food deposits stuck in your mouth.
Restoration inspection: If you have any prostheses, the dentist will examine them to check whether they need replacement.
Medication review: The dentist will examine any medication you’re currently on to determine how it may affect your oral health.
The dentist conducts dental x-rays to identify any tooth decay or oral issues that they can’t identify on the surface. A dental x-ray can expose decay around an old filling or between the teeth.
The dentist will also look at your jaw alignment and check for gum disease or oral cancer signs. They also check your bite to determine whether you have overbite or underbite. Standard dental x-rays take no more than five minutes.
Keep in mind that not all dental exams require an x-ray. Dentists determine whether you need an x-ray based on your oral hygiene and risk of disease. Typically, the radiation from dental x-rays is very low, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Oral Cancer Examination
An estimated 54,010 people are likely to suffer from oral cancer in 2021. Out of this figure, approximately 10,850 individuals will succumb to the disease. As such, your dentist will examine for signs of oral cancers during your dental exam.
Some of these signs include:
- Mouth sores that won’t heal
- Lumps inside your mouths soft tissue on the cheek
- Trouble when chewing or swallowing
- Loose and painful teeth
- White or red patches on your mouth’s lining
- Changes in your voice
These are just a few signs of oral cancer. The dentist will start by feeling under your jaw and inside your mouth’s soft tissue to check for these signs. If it’s your first time, it’ll feel a little weird, but it’ll be over soon.
Next, the dentist will use a small light to examine your palate and under your lips. You should inform your dentist if you’ve experienced any of the above signs because some signs of oral cancer aren’t so evident.
Dental impressions are imprints of your teeth and gums. Dental impressions will create 3D models of your upper and lower teeth. It helps dentists understand your bite to make mouthguards or bleaching trays for future procedures.
To get your dental impression, the dentist will fill a horseshoe tray with a soft jelly-like substance. The dentist then places it on your upper and lower teeth. It stays there for a while before they remove it to make a cast of your teeth.
In some exams, the doctor will make you bite down on soft styrofoam-like material. That way, they can determine your bite and teeth alignment.
Some types of dental impressions you might encounter include:
Preliminary impressions: These are accurate three-dimensional representations of your mouth. The dentist uses them for documentation and diagnosis. They are also a useful educational tool in terms of visual aid.
Bite registrations: Examines your teeth’ arches to determine how the lower teeth meet the upper ones.
Final Impressions: These go into detail about your teeth structure and the surrounding gum tissue. They are useful for making dentures, bridges, and crowns.
All the evaluations, x-rays, and reviews culminate in a medical report. You may have a lengthy discussion with your doctor concerning your oral health. The dentist will go into detail about signs of tooth decay and other risks to your dental health.
You’ll also get information on whether you require follow-up visits and when they will be. That concludes your dental exam.
Dental Checkups Are Important
Now that you know what happens during a dental exam, we hope you’ll be more comfortable with your next one. Remember, frequent dental exams are crucial for proper dental health and oral hygiene. That’s why you need to visit your dentist at least twice a year and not only when you have a toothache.
You’ll need the right dentist to get the most out of your dental exam. For expedient and comprehensive dental checkups, book an appointment with Dr. Robert Govoni, Dr. Katharina Fung, or Dr. Monika Govoni today.