When you go to the dentist, you’re probably wondering if you have a cavity or if you don’t. There is more to a dental exam than just finding a cavity. Here are 5 things that should happen.
1. What Do You Want? The dentist should ask. Maybe you’re worried because a tooth is cold sensitive. Maybe you want to know what can happen to give you a whiter, brighter smile. Before your dentist opens your mouth, you want both of you to have a conversation on your expectations and any problems you think you may have.
2. The Dentist Should Examine Your Oral Soft Tissue. That’s every area of your mouth. Your dentist should look at your lips, cheeks, gums, the roof of your mouth, all parts of the tongue and your throat and tonsil area. Your dentist is checking for oral cancer and any other problem. Are your tonsils fighting off a disease or are they causing bad breath? Your dentist should look at your whole mouth.
3. Periodontal Health Should Be Checked. This is done by probing. A small instrument is inserted between your teeth and the gum to judge how healthy your gums are. If the “pockets” are deep they may be a sign of periodontal disease. A deep dental cleaning – or scaling and root planing – mat be needed.
4. Finally, It’s Teeth Time. This is the part of the exam that checks existing fillings, crowns and implants. The dentist will look for fractures or cracks or other problems. Your bite will also be evaluated. If you haven’t had X-rays and a problem is detected, X-rays may be needed.
5. Plan What’s Next. The final part of your visit should discuss your dental future. Is there work you need to have done? Did the dentist notice spots that you weren’t reaching with brushing? You may be given instruction on how to brush and floss more effectively. Any needed work will be noted and any options you have should be given to you.
Regular dental checkups are part of keeping your teeth, mouth and gums healthy. They’re your best way of having teeth that last a lifetime. If you’ve been putting off your dental checkup, find a good dental office near you and explain your lack of care. You want to find a dentist who will help you go forward, not criticize or shame you.