Dental Exams & X-Rays
WHAT ARE DENTAL EXAMS & X-RAYS?
Dental exams are a crucial part of everyone’s oral health. During an exam, a dental hygienist cleans and polishes your teeth. Then, a dentist thoroughly examines your teeth, gums, jaws, face, neck, and mouth health. We recommend most patients see their dentist for a dental exam once every six months.
X-rays give dentists a more complete view of your mouth and teeth beyond what is visible when doing an examination. They are images of your teeth and jaws that can show what is happening inside the teeth, under the gums, and in the jaws. Patients with a history of poor oral hygiene and lots of tooth decay need x-rays more frequently than patients who haven’t have much decay or much need for dental treatment.
WHAT ARE DENTAL EXAMS & X-RAYS USED FOR?
Dental exams are very important for good oral health. Dentists examine your mouth and teeth for cavities, tooth damage, other oral disease, and other potential health problems. X-rays can penetrate through the teeth and jaws to show decay and other potential problems the dentist can’t see simply by looking in your mouth. If your dentist has access to previous x-rays, they’ll also be able to see how your mouth is doing over time.
Dental cleanings are a very important part of good oral health. We perform cleanings in conjunction with your dental exam. During a cleaning, a dental hygienist or dentist can remove plaque that your toothbrush can’t reach and scrape away tartar your toothbrush can’t remove. The only reliable way to remove tartar from your mouth is to have your teeth cleaned. Simply put, scheduling regular dental exams is the best way you can keep your mouth healthy long term.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A DENTAL EXAM?
We recommend that most patients have a dental exam once every six months. You should also schedule an appointment if you start feeling any of the following symptoms:
- Any kind of tooth pain (dull, sharp, pulsing, intermittent, constant, etc.)
- Jaw pain or soreness
- Bleeding teeth or gums
- Pain when brushing or flossing
- Loose or damaged teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Swelling of the gums, lips, mouth, or jaw
- Teeth with temperature sensitivity
- Other tooth pain
During an exam, a dentist can tell you why you’ve been experiencing these symptoms and help stop them. If you’re experiencing mouth pain, schedule a dental exam right away!
HOW DO DENTAL EXAM APPOINTMENTS WORK?
What your dentist does during a dental exam depends in part on your dental health and history. A fairly typical dental exam happens like this:
1. First, we’ll ask you questions about your health and your medical history. Please tell your dentist if you have any general health issues that could affect your dental health. We also want to know about any special precautions we’ll have to take to treat you safely and properly. Finally, We’ll ask you about your dental history in detail. Remember: we ask these questions so we can get an accurate understanding of your dental health. We’re not trying to “shame” you, so answer honestly! It’s also important for you to tell the dentist if you’re currently having any particular problems so those could be focused on during the exam.
2. If your dentist recommends that you have x-rays taken, that would be the next step in the examination appointment. Your dentist will generally recommend that you have x-rays of your entire mouth around once every 3-5 years, and x-ray updates about every 1-2 years. The timing depends on what your dentist sees when looking in your mouth, along with your history of tooth decay and previous dental treatment, as well as your age and health. Patients with a history of poor oral hygiene and lots of tooth decay need x-rays more frequently than patients who haven’t have much decay or much need for dental treatment.
3. After we take the x-rays, we’ll perform an examination of your mouth, teeth, gums, neck, and face. Your dentist also consults your x-rays to look for signs of tooth damage, decay, and other problems too small to see during the initial exam.
4. After the exam is complete, the dentist will share their findings with you. If they noticed any problems that require treatment, they recommend the best next steps you should take. They also offer advice on preventative care and oral hygiene.
5. In most cases, we’ll clean your teeth in conjunction with your exam appointment.
That involves the dental hygienist thoroughly cleaning your teeth using instruments called scalers, removing plaque and tartar buildup, or “calculus,” from each tooth.
6. For the last step of the cleaning, hygienists use a mildly abrasive dental paste and a handheld polishing device to polish the outside surfaces of the teeth. The paste gently cleans and buffs each tooth, removing stains and restoring a smooth surface.
IF I THINK I NEED A DENTAL EXAM, HOW SOON SHOULD I SEE MY DENTIST?
It’s never a good idea to put off seeing your dentist. The longer dental problems go unaddressed, the worse they can get. On the other hand, if you address problems, early you could prevent them from becoming much worse. If you think you need a dental exam, don’t hesitate; just call or come into ImmediaDent today!