You have probably noticed that certain teeth have a different shape than others, but have you ever wondered what the purpose is for the different types of teeth?Teeth are much more than an aesthetic property; they serve a very important role in our ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis.All of our teeth serve…
When Is a Complete Dental Exam Recommended?
Usually, a regular dental exam is enough to identify problems with a patient’s teeth. Sometimes, a more thorough examination is called for. A regular dental checkup examines the surface of the teeth and gums. A complete dental exam goes deeper, including X-rays, cancer screening, and other in-depth tests.
What happens in a complete dental exam?
Like a regular checkup, a complete dental exam begins by looking at each tooth in turn. The dentist checks for damage, discoloration and plaque. A complete dental exam also includes looking at the gums. Clean white teeth and firm pink gums indicate a good healthy mouth. Discolored teeth and bad breath are conversely signs of bad oral health. Receded, pale or bleeding gums may likewise suggest gum disease or other oral problems.
A complete dental exam includes:
- Tooth-by-tooth examination
- Periodontal exam (i.e. looking at the gums)
- Aesthetic exam (checking the whiteness and straightness of the teeth)
- X-ray of the jaw
- Oral cancer screening
- Bite test
- Questions regarding the patient’s dental history
- Check of past dental work (fillings, bridgework, etc.)
A complete dental exam may include X-rays and cancer screening. X-rays let the dentist look at the bone structure for deep-seated dental problems. Cancer screening is quick, painless and literally saves lives. Early detection is essential in successfully treating cancer.
A complete dental exam will also look in detail at fillings and previous dental work. Loose fillings can lead to abscesses and infections, which may be missed by a regular checkup. Bridgework and other dental work can also bear being checked during a detailed dental exam. A complete dental exam checks all these things.
In addition, a complete dental exam may involve a bite test. The dentist makes a soft mold of the patient’s teeth. The indents of the patient’s bite show in detail the alignment of their teeth. From this, the dentist can measure any overbite or underbite. A bite test can also help identify sensitivity and pain in the teeth and gums. The dentist may also ask questions about medical history and past dental work.
When is a complete dental exam appropriate?
A complete dental exam is usually needed when a patient visits a new dentist for the first time. The detailed information provided forms the basis of the patient’s notes with that dentist. Sometimes, a regular dental checkup may not identify the source of pain. In these cases, a complete dental exam is required to delve deeper.
A complete dental exam can identify damage to the jawbone and mandible joint. It can also detect if the toothache is in the tooth itself, in the gums or deeper in the jaw. Old injuries or infection in the jaw can both contribute to dental pain. The addition of cancer screening can detect potentially life-threatening problems before they even arise.
Getting a complete dental exam
Consult with your dentist about when you need a complete dental exam. The average person needs to visit a dentist three or four times a year. A complete dental exam can spot problems that a regular checkup can miss. Book a complete dental exam with your dentist.
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