As part of your oral hygiene practice, Eric R Koch, DDS, recommends a dental exam at least every six months. A dental examination is a checkup of your gum and teeth, which is important for protecting oral health. Most oral health problems are preventable but can become serious and painful without prompt treatment. A dentist or a dental hygienist can perform a dental exam; a dentist is a doctor who specializes in care for teeth and gums, while a dental hygienist is a healthcare professional who works independently of a dentist to help patients maintain good oral health habits.
Dentists can treat people of all ages, but children often go to pediatric dentists – oral health professionals with additional training to care for your child’s teeth, gums, and mouth.
What’s a dental exam used for?
A dental examination, also called a dental checkup or oral exam, is used to find oral health problems like gum disease and tooth decay early, when they are easier to treat. Besides checking the health of your gums and teeth, you get to learn about the best ways to improve your oral health.
When would I need a dental exam?
As mentioned, a dental examination is vital for all adults and children at least every six months. However, if you have gum disease or other oral health issues, your dentist may need to see you more often than twice a year. For instance, you may see your dentist three to four times a year if you have gum disease. Frequent exams can help prevent periodontitis, which can lead to infection and tooth loss.
Dental examinations are also essential for babies within six months of getting their first tooth or by one year of age. After that, a child should go for an exam every six months or as per the dentist’s recommendation. If your child has problems with tooth development or other oral health issues, they may need to see the dentist more frequently.
What does a dental exam involve?
A typical dental exam involves teeth cleaning, dental x-rays, and an assessment of your mouth.
Teeth cleanings involve scraping your teeth to remove plaque and tartar, flossing them, and brushing them using a special electric toothbrush. The dental hygienist may also apply fluoride gel or foam on your teeth to prevent tooth decay. However, fluoride treatments are more often given to children than adults.
Next, the dentist or hygienist will take dental x-rays to find oral issues like cavities, bone loss, gum disease, and other problems that are not just visible by looking at the mouth. There are different types of x-rays; you may need a full-mouth series once every few years to check your overall health, but bitewing x-rays are often used to check for cavities.
The dentist will finally check your x-rays to see if you have cavities and other problems, assess your teeth and gums, check your bite, and check for oral cancer. If results show that you have a cavity or any other issue, you will make another appointment with your dentist for treatment.
When last did you see your dentist for a routine dental checkup? Book an appointment today at Advanced Dental Care of East Texas for a dental exam to prevent serious oral issues.