Comprehensive Dental Exams: Why You Need Them!

dental exam

The foundation of all good dental treatment is a thorough comprehensive exam. This is where your dentist lays the groundwork for all future care and recommendations and is able to get an up-close view of your teeth, gums and mouth. Comprehensive exams entail far more than just cleaning your teeth. The American Dental Association defines a comprehensive oral exam as an “extensive evaluation and the recording of all extraoral, intraoral and soft tissues”. They recommend comprehensive dental exams for all patients every three years starting at age two.


Comprehensive Dental Exam: What Is It?

A comprehensive exam is the first step in accessing your oral health. How does a dentist know how well your teeth are doing and how to treat them? Through a dental exam! Comprehensive exams are the best preventative and diagnostic measure for your dental and overall health. A dental exam is basically a thorough evaluation of the teeth, gums, jaw and surrounding areas of the mouth. We look closely for problems with tooth decay (also known as cavities or dental caries) and gum disease. Both of these are serious conditions that can greatly affect your health.


Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

The American Dental Association tells us that tooth decay is the destruction of your tooth enamel. This is the hard, outer shell (or layer) of your teeth. The outside is strong, while the inside of a tooth has a soft, pulpy center. This center is where the nerves and blood vessels to the tooth lie. Tooth decay comes about as a side effect of plaque eroding the tooth enamel. Plaque is a mixture of sugars from the foods you eat mixed with bacteria in the mouth. It is an acidic substance that can be brushed away by brushing and flossing the teeth.


However, when the teeth aren’t brushed frequently enough, that acidic plaque erodes the tooth enamel, seeping into the pulp and causing decay. This is how cavities form. Cavities are one of the most prolific childhood diseases, but they can be avoided with proper oral hygiene habits. Plaque not only affects the teeth, but can attack the gums as well. Over time, plaque can irritate the gums and cause them to become red and inflamed. If the problem progresses, the gums will begin to recede and the teeth can actually fall out. The beginning stage is called gingivitis and the severe stage is periodontitis, or gum disease.


What We Will Do

We want our patients to avoid gum disease and tooth decay as much as possible. During your dental exam, we will do a dental cleaning. This cleaning will extensively brush and floss the teeth and clean them as thoroughly as is possible. Dental exams go beyond just cleaning the teeth of plaque and food particles. During your comprehensive dental exam, you can expect some or all of the following:

  • An evaluation of your dental and medical history, concerns, background and diet. Some diets and medicines can increase the risk for dental caries and gum disease.
  • An assessment of your overall health and oral hygiene. We look for signs of tooth decay and gum problems and help you prevent those problems in the future.
  • Evaluate signs of cavities with probing tools and x-ray images.
  • X-ray imaging of the teeth and discussion about how the teeth are doing. Other diagnostic procedures such as radiographs or digital imaging can be used depending on the individual.
  • An examination of bite and jaw alignment to see if orthodontic treatment is needed.
  • Screening for oral cancer that also includes checking your face, neck and mouth for abnormalities.
  • Removal of any stains or deposits on your teeth (such as tartar).
  • An examination of all restorations that include fixed and removable prostheses.
  • We will show you proper cleaning techniques for your teeth and provide you with a take-home bag of toothpaste and other essentials that can help you.


Why It’s Important

As you can see, our comprehensive dental exams are just that: comprehensive. We don’t want to miss anything when it comes to your teeth. Why? When your dental health is poor, it not only affects your teeth and gums, but also total body wellness. Poor oral health is linked to diabetes, systemic disorders, high blood pressure, gum and bone disease, oral cancer, deteriorating cardiovascular health and even sinus problems. When tooth decay becomes severe, infections in the teeth can also seep into your bloodstream, causing major health problems. Bottom line: take care of your oral health to avoid several major problems with the rest of your health.


You Can Benefit from a Dental Exam!

Our dentist has had years of experience and will use their professional judgement to give you the best dental care possible. We recommend receiving your comprehensive dental exam at least every 6 months to keep your smile healthy and strong. If you are due for a comprehensive exam or just want to know more, call our Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies office today at (970) 223-8425!