Perks of a Comprehensive Dental Exam

Dental patient in chair talking with dentist and assistant about his X-rays.

To protect your teeth in the best way possible, it’s essential that you have regular comprehensive dental exams. During an exam, your teeth, gums and mouth will be reviewed for signs of decay or disease, while checking your bite and performing an oral cancer screening at the same time. A comprehensive dental exam is recommended every three years to ensure that pesky oral health problems don’t go unnoticed. Find out what to expect during your next comprehensive dental exam with this guide!

What To Expect During Your Exam

We’ve all had a regular dental checkup while we were young and periodically throughout the years, but a comprehensive dental exam is no ordinary checkup; as the name implies, it is a comprehensive and thorough evaluation of the extraoral, intraoral and soft tissues of the oral cavity. A comprehensive dental exam is needed every three years after the age of two, and it’s important that you’re consistent with this schedule since oral health complications can easily develop within that span of time. Unlike a regular checkup where you have a quick exam and teeth cleaning, your comprehensive dental exam will include that and more. It is common for dentists to go over your medical history with you to see how your oral health has been the last few years, plus it is likely that he/she will take multiple dental X-rays to monitor your tooth movement. An oral cancer screening will also be taken as a precaution since oral cancer is typically silent but fast-moving. This screening involves examining your jaw, the side of your neck, tongue, roof of your mouth and lips for any signs of disease. If you have any tooth restorations, those will be looked at, as well, and treated if they are loose or damaged. Your bite and jaw will be reviewed to see how well they fit together and any cavities, root decay, gum or bone issues will be treated, as well. They will also perform a deep cleaning to remove any deposits on your teeth and talk to you about any medications that you’re taking that might be affecting your oral health. Afterwards, your dentist will discuss with you their results, your risk of decay or disease and give you home tips to implement into your daily life to achieve optimal health.

How Dental X-rays Improve the Dental Experience

Just like the comprehensive dental exam, dental X-rays are only taken every few years to see how your teeth are doing and whether any issues have developed underneath the gum line. Most patients will have an intraoral X-ray taken of their mouth since they are more detailed and easily identify cavities, can see the bone around teeth and show tooth roots. There are three main types of intraoral X-rays: bitewing, occlusal and periapical. Bitewing X-rays help identify decay on the back teeth by using wing-shaped devices that hold the teeth in place while the X-ray is being taken. Once completed, the dentist has a great view of the upper and lower molars in your mouth. Occlusal X-rays are used mostly in children and they show the full arch of teeth so that dentists can monitor kids’ tooth development. Lastly, periapical X-rays show the entire length and width of each tooth but only takes an image of one or two teeth at a time. Periapical and bitewing X-rays are similar to each other, but each perform different functions. 

Extraoral X-rays are taken alongside intraoral X-rays, but they offer more information on the teeth, jaw and skull. While not used to detect cavities, extraoral X-rays help keep track of teeth movement, identify impacted teeth and aid the dentist in examining facial bones for disease. These and intraoral X-rays combined are often used during a comprehensive dental exam to help the dentist see the big picture around your oral health.

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene At Home

Man looking in mirror while brushing his teeth.

You want your comprehensive dental exam to go as well as it possibly can, but that means that you have some work to do at home to keep your teeth up to par. Brushing and flossing your teeth daily is necessary for you to achieve and maintain good oral health. Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash is a great way to clean the hard-to-reach areas that your toothbrush and floss can’t get to, plus it gives you fresh breath. All three of these combined will destroy decay-building plaque and protect your oral health. Make sure that you’re meeting with your dentist for a regular dental checkup every six months to have a deep cleaning and answer any of your questions or concerns that you may have. To keep your teeth healthy, you should also be eating a nutritious diet full of fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains, which all provide the vitamins and minerals that your teeth need. Eating the right foods can actually clean your teeth of sugar and safeguard them from plaque. If you can, avoid eating foods full of sugar, which increases your likelihood of tooth decay and cavities. 

Schedule Your Next Comprehensive Exam With Us!

At Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies, we provide comprehensive dental exams to all of our patients and do everything in our power to make your experience comfortable and productive. We can ensure that your oral health is our top priority and you’ll be amazed at the service you receive. Call our office today at (970) 223-8425 to schedule your next comprehensive dental exam!