The necessary, and often unnecessarily feared, dental exam–what is it for? We all know that dentists check for cavities, but that can’t possibly take the full 30 minutes of appointment time. You’re right: it doesn’t! Your mouth is like a window into your overall physical health. When a dentist looks inside your mouth for a dental check-up, they play an important role in preventative care.
One of the first things you will do when attending a dental check-up (especially if it is your first visit at the practice) is complete a health history report. From this, dentists and staff can see if you have any current health issues or take any medications that may affect your oral health. It also helps the team identify what underlying issues may become a problem down the road.
Teeth cleaning is part of almost every dental exams. Using special tools, the dentist or dental hygienist remove built up plaque and tartar from the gum line, floss, and polish your teeth (who doesn’t love that super clean feeling afterwards?) If they notice any weak or dark spots on your teeth (cavities!) then they will discuss options with you. We all know what untreated cavities can lead to: infection, root canals, and even tooth loss!
While teeth cleaning is a well-known part of a standard dental check-up, there are other steps that people may not notice or even know about.

  • Oral Cancer Screening: When a dentist looks into your mouth, they can identify signs of oral cancer on your lips, tongue, throat, and gums. In addition, the dentists may feel your neck and jawline for any abnormalities.
  • X-Rays: Depending on your age and risk factors, you may have x-rays of your mouth taken. These x-rays can help identify problems beneath the surface of the teeth, such as cysts, tumors, impacted teeth, and more.
  • Other Diseases: As we’ve mentioned before, dental exams are imperative and can signal things that may also be affecting other areas of your body. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV, and osteoporosis affect oral health and may be identified by a dentist during your exams. It is always recommended that you see your primary care physician with any abnormal findings that your dentist finds.

Once your dental exam is complete, you will be educated on how to improve (or maintain, if you get a spectacular report) your dental hygiene. In conjunction with your health screening, they may discuss options with you if you have a medication that affects your oral health. For example, some medications cause dry mouth, which can present an increased risk for tooth decay. Your dental team will help you manage this so you can stay on your medication and maintain a healthy mouth. This is unique to each patient and their abilities but can include flossing tips, recommended products–such as an electric toothbrush–or a special type of mouthwash.
We are not only here for your oral health, but your overall health and well-being, too. A healthy mouth is a great foundation for overall health. We welcome you to build that foundation with us! We are always welcoming new patients and would love to have you join our family. Call us or set up an appointment online.