Dental examinations are a very important part of every person’s overall health care. Even patients who have exemplary dental hygiene will still benefit from dental examinations, as any problems can be discovered early, while they are easy to treat. Dental experts recommend that people visit their dentist for an examination and cleaning twice a year.
Prior to a dental examination, a patient should provide an updated medical and dental history to the dentist. This can identify certain medical conditions or lifestyle choices that may affect a patient’s oral health. Patients may also wish to speak to their dentist about any fear, anxiety or special concerns (e.g., a sensitive gag reflex, bad breath, dental phobia).
- Visual inspection of the soft tissue inside the mouth, including a check for lesions and signs of oral cancer.
- Periodontal screening, which may include a measurement of the space between the teeth and gums for signs of gum disease.
- Examination of a patient’s bite, which may indicate a need for braces.
- Feeling the head and neck area, including the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), for signs of infection, disease or other problems.
- Dental x-rays, to identify any hidden signs of decay or disease. The frequency of x-rays depends on a patient’s dental history and risk of tooth decay.
- Visual inspection for signs of tooth decay. This may include the use of specialized tools that can help a dentist identify the presence of cavities.