Dental exams can be routine, or a dentist may schedule an exam due to problems that a patient may be experiencing. Here is a bit of information about dental exams to help you better understand them.
Routine Dental Exams
Routine dental exams are usually scheduled at least twice a year. The procedures are performed as preventive services that help a dentist identify potential problems before they become severe. These exams are often paired with routine dental cleanings, which remove tartar accumulations from the teeth.
During a routine exam, the dentist usually performs the following:
- A dental x-ray. A dental x-ray is used to help the dentist review the state of the teeth, jawbone, and gingival tissues that are below the gum line. Issues, such as jawbone atrophy, deep cavities, and dental infections may be discovered.
- A visual inspection. The dentist may also inspect the oral cavity visually, using a probe to touch and manipulate the soft tissues of the mouth. A visual inspection may reveal unusual gum discoloration or textural changes that could indicate cancer. The inspection may also reveal signs of decay or gum disease.
- A pocket-depth check. If severe gum disease has developed, the dentist may verify the severity of the condition by measuring the depth of gingival pockets with a probe. Deeper pockets, or areas of detachment between the teeth and gums, are associated with more severe cases of periodontal disease.
If a dentist discovers extensive problems during a routine exam, the patient may be scheduled for follow-up care. However, smaller issues, such as tiny cavities that can be treated with an application of bonding material, may be addressed during the same visit.
When a patient complains of dental problems, such as oral pain, bleeding gums, or foul breath, an exploratory exam may be scheduled. The examination is not considered routine because it is in response to a dental issue that has arisen.
Uncomfortable symptoms should be explored and treated as soon as possible to prevent more extensive problems. A patient who complains of malodorous breath, dental discoloration, an abscess, and tooth pain, may have a severe dental infection that could become systemic or cause the loss of a tooth. Treatments, such as root canal therapy, may be necessary to salvage the tooth.
Additionally, a toothache could indicate the development of a cavity that must be treated to avoid the spread of decay.
If you would like to schedule a dental exam, contact the office of a dentist in your local area.