Routine dental exams are important to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Additionally, they can help to avoid the financial costs associated with large treatment plans later on. The Academy of General Dentistry recommends twice yearly checkups for people of all ages. At this frequency, most problems can be caught while they remain in an early stage.
How it's done
The dentist first examines your mouth visually, using dental equipment such as mouth mirrors, dental picks, and high intensity lights and now special cavity detecting lasers. They will look for cracked and decayed teeth, as well as review other important items such as:
Medical history review: The dentist will assess how any new medical conditions or illnesses may affect your dental health.
Examination of tooth decay: Your mouth will be checked for cracked or decayed teeth.
Oral cancer screening: The face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums will be checked for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum disease evaluation: Your gums and bone around the teeth will be checked for any evidence of periodontal disease.
Examination of existing restorations: Current fillings, crowns, and other restorations are made sure to be in good order.
Additionally, your dentist will take diagnostic x-rays to reveal any other hidden problems, especially in the areas below the gums and in between the teeth. A full series of dental xrays is taken at the first office visit, so the complete mouth can be evaluated. Then bitewing x-rays on average are taken every 12 months, to make sure no problems are developing.