Are Dental Exams Necessary?
To determine if dental exams are necessary, it is important to know what they are, and what they entail. Dental exams can be referred to as dental checkups, comprehensive oral exams or complete oral exams. While these terms sound quite similar, there is a difference between a dental checkup and a complete oral exam.
Complete Oral Exam
A complete oral exam is also referred to as a comprehensive oral exam or dental exam. This type of exam can last up to half an hour in some cases. A complete oral exam involves taking a detailed snapshot of your dental health in many areas. These types of exams are done every three to five years.
Most dentists begin by taking photos of the exterior and interior of the mouth. These photos show the color of the gum tissue, other soft tissues in the mouth, and the condition of the teeth. Your dentist will also check your mouth to look for any irregularities, and to screen for oral cancer and other dental conditions.
Each tooth and the surrounding gum tissue is also scrutinized. The condition of the tooth, rotation, and positioning of the tooth is charted. The amount of supporting bone around the tooth is checked to see if it is within normal limits or if it is lacking. Deep areas in the gum tissue, especially those that bleed are also noted.
Dental x-rays are used in a complete oral exam to see the bone levels for each tooth and to monitor the development of teeth in young children and teenagers. Areas of infection or dental decay are also easily seen with the use of x-rays.
A dental checkup lasts a few minutes and focuses on comparing data from previous exams to look for changes. Dental checkups monitor your oral health routinely to look for small changes in oral health. Many times, small dental issues can be treated before they progress to complex dental issues. Often, by the time dental issues become serious, they are also accompanied with pain.
All dental professionals recommended having routine dental checkups at least once or twice a year. Depending on your oral health or past dental history, your dentist may recommend seeing you more frequently. Patients with a high risk of developing dental decay or patients with diabetes are examples of patients who may require more frequent dental checkups.
If you are overdue for your dental exam or dental checkup, contact us at 905-286-1569 to schedule an appointment.