Routine dental examinations are a critical part of preventive dental care. The dental hygienist will clean your teeth, and your dentist will perform a dental exam to check for tooth decay, gum disease, and signs of oral cancer. A dental exam will also include periodic dental X-rays.
Your dentist or hygienist reviews your dental hygiene maintenance with you and possibly offers tips to improve at-home dental care.
Why Is A Dental Exam Necessary?
Regular dental examinations help protect your dental health and your overall systemic health. For example, signs and symptoms of some systemic diseases might show up in the mouth first.
These diseases can include conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes. If your hygienist or dentist finds any indicators of disease, they will recommend you see your physician for further evaluation.
Regular complete dental exams are vital to maintaining a healthy smile and your oral health. They can also save you money. These exams will be critical to catching the dental disease early when it is treatable easily.
Checkups are recommended every six months for people of all ages. At this level of frequency, your dentist can catch most oral issues while they remain in their earliest stages.
A dental X-ray gives the dentist the ability to see detailed images of your mouth to assist in diagnosing problems not visible to the naked eye. X-rays are not typically required at every oral exam. Your dentist or dental hygienist will let you know when X-rays are needed based on your oral health and disease risk.
Radiation exposure from dental X-rays is extremely low. This is especially true from digital X-rays.
Oral Cancer Screenings
During your routine oral exam, your dentist or hygienist will check for signs and symptoms of mouth or throat cancer. They will feel with their hands under your jaw, along the sides of your neck, and the insides of your lips and cheeks. They will also examine both sides of your tongue and the roof and floor of your mouth.
Marielaina Perrone DDS has the skills and tools to ensure that early signs and symptoms of oral cancer and pre-cancerous conditions are identified. The most important tool for oral cancer screening is the VelScope.
The VelScope uses a special light to show cancerous changes in the oral tissues.
The most common signs and symptoms of oral cancer can include:
- Red or white spots or sores in the mouth
- A sore that easily bleeds or does not heal normally
- A lump, thickening, or rough spot
- Pain, tenderness, or numbness in the mouth or on the lips
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
- Avoid Tobacco Use
- Limit Alcohol Consumption
- Maintain A Healthy, Balanced Diet
- Wear sun-protective lotions on the face and lips
Early detection of oral cancer is essential for long-term survival. Your dentist should be performing an oral cancer screening at all regular dental exams.
Your dentist might recommend taking a dental impression of one or both jaws to produce a replica of your teeth and oral tissues at your examination. This model can help the dentist or hygienist evaluate your bite or fabricate a mouthguard or teeth whitening trays.
Professional Dental Cleanings
A professional dental cleaning at least 2x a year can improve your oral health. The hygienist performing your cleaning will be able to remove any plaque or tartar that has accumulated on your teeth. Even with regular brushing and flossing, staying completely free of plaque and tartar is still difficult. That is why twice a year professional dental cleanings are so important for your oral health.
Medical History Intake
Your dentist will ask you a few questions during your dental exam to help them discover more about your dental and systemic health. You will be required to list the medications you are currently taking, allergies, and whether you smoke or consume alcohol.
The dentist will ask if you have any medical conditions that you are undergoing treatment for. Once you answer all these questions, the dentist may also ask you about your previous dental treatment, surgeries, and experience with anesthesia. All of this information will help guide your dentist as they build your treatment plan.
Oral Structure Examination
Your dentist will complete a thorough investigation of your teeth, gums, and supporting oral structures.
After examination completion, your dentist will discuss the findings and concerns regarding your smile. They may advise you to see a specialist if you have a severe problem outside their expertise and guide you on how to take care of your teeth to avoid future problems.
Possible Dental Examination Results
May include one or more of the following conditions:
- Tooth Decay
- Presence Of Gum Disease or other gum problems
- Bone loss or tooth development issues
If results show that you have the presence of tooth decay, you will most likely need to schedule a return appointment for dental treatments. Questions about how tooth decay is treated should be directed to your dentist.
If your exam shows you have the presence of gum disease, your dentist may recommend:
- Improved Dental Hygiene Maintenance
- More frequent professional cleanings. Maybe every 3 or 4 months
- Using a prescription mouth rinse to control periodontal disease
- Referral to a Periodontist for further gum disease treatment
Why Are Dental Exams So Crucial For My Oral Health?
Even if you take good care of your teeth and gums at home, you still need to see a dentist regularly. A dental exam allows your dentist to detect any oral health problems early when they are:
- Easiest to treat
- Monitor the progression of dental issues (like gum disease)
Dental visits every six months are the recommendation for most patients. Your dentist may recommend more frequent visits if you have ongoing oral health problems.
Visiting your dentist every six months allows them to:
- Find early signs of tooth decay
- Check for oral issues that may be present without outward symptoms
- Treat other oral health problems present
What Should I Do Between Dental Hygiene Visits?
It is essential to maintain good dental hygiene between routine dental visits. Doing so helps prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems from worsening.
Below are some tips on practicing good dental hygiene:
- Brush your teeth at least 2x per day using a fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing at least once per day to remove food and plaque between teeth and along the gum line
- Use a mouthwash to help control plaque and bacteria
How To Prepare For A Dental Exam
You may require antibiotics before your examination if you have specific health issues. These conditions include:
- Heart issues
- Immune system disorders
- Recent surgery
If you are not sure if you need to take antibiotics, talk to your dentist and physician.
Are There Any Dental Exam Risks?
There is virtually no risk to having a dental exam. The cleaning may be slightly uncomfortable for some patients, but it is not typically painful.
Dental x-rays are safe. The radiation dose in a dental x-ray is minimal. But x-rays are typically not recommended for pregnant women unless it is a true dental emergency. Be sure to tell your dentist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
If you are ready for a smile makeover, contact Marielaina Perrone DDS at (702) 458-2929 to schedule a no cost cosmetic consultation appointment. We cannot wait to help you with your smile makeover to create the smile of your dreams in Summerlin, Henderson, and Las Vegas, NV.
Marielaina Perrone, DDS, is a passionate and highly experienced dental professional committed to delivering exceptional patient care. With more than 20 years of experience in the dental industry, Dr. Perrone is recognized as a leading authority in her field, renowned for her innovative solutions and personalized approach to patient care. Her dedication to providing outstanding dental services has earned her awards as a top dentist in Las Vegas, NV.