Oral health speaks a lot about your overall health. Tooth or gum issues can cause pain, tooth loss, and challenges with self-confidence. Dental exams facilitate detecting and dealing with problems early, and in certain cases, preventing them altogether. Your dentist may also guide you on oral hygiene habits, proper diet, and lifestyle changes needed to improve your oral health.
How Often Should You Have a Dental Exam?
Regular dental exams allow your dentist to check your mouth for tooth cavities, gum diseases and examine signs of other health conditions. Most patients are recommended to visit the dentist twice a year. Despite following a good oral care routine, it is important to visit a dentist regularly. There might be issues that you might not be able to notice or feel, but your dentist can examine and diagnose them. Most dental issues become visible or cause pain only once they reach more advanced stages.
How Do You Prepare For a Dental Exam?
Here are a few things to list down before visiting the dentist:
- Medical History: Before conducting a dental examination, your dentist will discuss your medical history. Certain conditions, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of gum disease. Depending on your condition, the dentist may also decide on kid of anesthetic used .
- Medications: Discuss with your dentist any medications you are currently taking. Certain medicines can cause dry mouth, which can increase your risk of cavities. Once informed, your dentist will prescribe appropriate medicines or anesthesia that would not cause any reaction with your current medication.
- Observations: Inform your dentist about any pain or unusual observations you have made after your last visit, such as a sensitive tooth, lumps, new cavity, etc. This will help the dentist examine your problem better and enable early diagnosis of any condition.
- Concerns: Make a list of any queries or concerns you have about oral health and discuss it with your dentist. Share your concerns with your dentist if you are unsure or afraid of the recommended treatment options. Dental treatments have advanced a lot over the years. Your dentist will be able to explain to you the various treatment options, which are less painful and affordable.
What To Expect From a Dental Exam?
- Oral Examination: During the dental exam, your dentist will first conduct an oral examination to check for tooth cavities, plaque, and tartar. The dentist will then check your gums using a tool to examine the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums. Next, an evaluation will be done to establish whether you need tooth restoration or replacement. The dentist will also check your bite and jaw movements.
- Cleaning and Flossing: After examining your teeth and gums, your teeth will be cleaned. Regularly brushing and flossing help clean the plaque collected, but do not clear the tartar formed on your teeth. Your dentist will use dental tools to remove tartar. Next, your teeth will be polished. A paste is applied evenly, and your teeth are polished using a small round rotating brush tool. This helps clean stains on the outer surface of your teeth. Lastly, your dentist will use floss to make sure the areas between your teeth are clean.
- Comprehensive Examination: Usually, a dental exam could also include a careful examination of your tongue, throat, mouth, face, and neck for abnormalities. This is to check for any signs, such as swelling, redness, or possible signs of other health conditions. Symptoms of certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes, might show up in the mouth first. If your dentist finds indications of disease, he or she will suggest that you see your doctor. A dental exam might also include dental X-rays to assist the dentist in examining your problem better.
What Are The Results of a Dental Exam?
After completing the check, your dentist will discuss and provide instructions to follow at home based on the results of your dental exam. Instructions could include the correct way to brush or floss or general tips to take care of your teeth and gums. He may also inform you about the right diet, consumption of tobacco products, and other lifestyle factors that can affect oral health.
The dentist will also recommend a follow-up visit date. If your results indicate that you are at high risk of tooth decay or gum disease, you might be recommended for frequent checkups to manage the problem.
If any problems are detected during your examination, your dentist will make treatment recommendations. These might include additional diagnostic tests, restoration work, such as fillings and crowns etc
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Regularly visiting your dentist will help protect your oral health. Although it is recommended to visit the dentist twice a year, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits, depending on the results of your dental exam. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, follow a healthy diet and lifestyle to prevent dental problems.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Which foods should be avoided to prevent tooth decay?
Tooth decay is mainly caused due to sugary food and drinks. The acids in sugar dissolve the tooth surface and start the decay process. Processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, chocolate, sweets, jams, flavored yogurts, etc., that contains simple sugars can lead to tooth decay.
Why is it important to floss?
Flossing helps clean the plaque collected on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that hardens over time and becomes tartar. If plaque and tartar form on your teeth, they can cause oral diseases. Moreover, the tartar can create wedges and widen the space between teeth and gums. Over time this can cause loosening of the teeth. Floss picks, or interdental brushes are convenient alternative options to protect your teeth.
How do fillings work?
Cavities can enter the surface enamel of teeth and get deeper unless closed off with fillings. Before the procedure, your dentist will numb your teeth, gums, and the surrounding skin to lessen discomfort. Then he will drill out the decay in the tooth and replace it with a white mixture called a composite or a paste made by combining strong materials. These materials have an insulating effect. Such fillings usually last for a long time, but if your filling has chipped off, you might need to redo it.