A dental cleaning is key in maintaining good oral health, as it removes any buildup of plaque and tartar, which can negatively affect the entire oral cavity. Things like cavities, gum disease, or abscesses are much more likely to occur if routine dental cleanings are not done, which is why general dentists recommend them twice…
What Is a Comprehensive Dental Exam?
A standard dental exam covers all the basics, looking at the condition of the teeth and the mouth. In a standard dental exam, the dentist uses a sickle probe and mirror to look inside the mouth. The dentist may also use a motorized rotary brush to clean away tartar and plaque. A comprehensive dental exam looks in much greater depth and detail.
What does a comprehensive dental exam involve?
Besides the usual standard checks of a regular dental exam, a comprehensive exam goes into detail. The extra attention includes:
- Tooth by tooth exam: more in-depth than the standard dental exam, a tooth by tooth exam checks each tooth in detail. The dentist looks not just at discoloration and plaque, but also looks for chips and subtle damage. The dental exam also includes checking the condition of existing fillings or other types of repair work
- Periodontal exam: an examination of the gums, looking at the color and testing the firmness of the flesh around the teeth. Receded or bleeding gums are an indicator of dental ill health. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and may contribute to other health conditions. Treating gum disease early can save the patient a great deal of trouble by preventing problems before they set in
- Bite evaluation: testing the patient’s bite can reveal sources of pain in the teeth and gums. Discomfort when biting down may indicate toothache, gum disease and other conditions. Evaluating the person’s bite can also help identify subtle misalignment of the teeth and jaw. It can also spot problems in the joints of the jaw
Besides the more detailed version of a standard dental checkup, a comprehensive dental exam also includes:
- Aesthetics: the whiteness and straightness of the teeth is a good indicator of overall oral health. White teeth are clean teeth. The dentist will check the front and back and in between the teeth. Overcrowded or uneven teeth can create crannies that are difficult to reach with a brush. These difficult corners between the teeth are prime spots for plaque and tartar to accumulate. They can also host bacteria, which may spread to become infections elsewhere
- X-rays: a comprehensive dental exam may also include using X-rays. The dentist can only see what is on the surface of the teeth. X-rays allow examination of the bone structure of the jaw and of the roots of the teeth. They can reveal damage to the bones that is not visible to the naked eye. This provides a breadth of additional information, underlying problems with the teeth
- Cancer screening: in addition to all the above, a comprehensive dental exam checks for oral cancer. Early cancer detection is essential to treatment. The longer cancer goes undetected, the larger and more difficult to treat it becomes. Oral cancer screening is a potentially life-saving element of a comprehensive dental exam
Getting a comprehensive dental exam
Your local dental clinic can arrange a comprehensive dental exam at your next checkup. Speak to your dentist about how often to get a comprehensive checkup. Your dentist can consult on dental problems and advise on better oral health. If you have pain or discomfort in the mouth, despite regular cleaning, a more detailed dental exam may be in order.
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