Regularly scheduled dental exams and cleanings are an important part of your overall health care routine. Oral exams allow your dentist to evaluate your mouth for problems you may not know about, such as tooth decay , gingivitis , periodontal disease (periodontitis), or oral cancer . They may also help identify symptoms in your body such as heart disease, sinus problems, diabetes , high blood pressure, or some forms of cancer .
Your physician will not generally conduct an oral exam. Only your dentist does that. Visiting the dentist regularly is essential to diagnose problems in your mouth. Did you know that many systemic diseases exhibit oral symptoms? Your dentist may help detect these conditions early so you can increase your chances for successful treatment.
Regular dental exams for children are also important. Starting your child on a life-long approach to good oral hygiene from an early age helps them:
The frequency at which you get dental exams depends on your risk factors. You should discuss this with your dentist. It is important to stick to your recommended schedule, as dental exams are important for many reasons.
The following steps are typical of dental exams for school-aged children through adulthood. Infants and toddlers may have different experiences based on their specific needs or comfort level with an appointment.
Once your exam is complete, any findings will be recorded in your oral health record. Exams may be followed by a professional tooth cleaning and polishing. Your dentist will then come in to review the hygienist's findings. They will typically conduct a second visual exam and examine the cleaning. They will also diagnose any problems and assess your need for fluoride or other appropriate medications. If any problems are detected during your exam, your dentist may also:
Your dentist may suggest additional services based on your exam:
There is no substitute for an oral exam by a dentist. However, teledentistry has become an effective method if there is an emergency or if you cannot get to a dental office quickly. Ask your dental office if they offer teledentistry services. Many offices provide this service through the internet or phone or via email or text communication.
Dental exams should be an important part of your oral health habits throughout your lifetime. Avoiding or delaying exams allows for a greater build-up of plaque and tartar (calculus) and increases the risk of unidentified problems. These issues can often lead to more extensive and costly procedures in the future.