What is included in a dental checkup?

You are in control of some of the most important factors in your dental health.

Regular brushing and flossing are two of the most important things you can do to ensure healthy teeth and gums – but equally important is that you make twice yearly trips to the dentist for checkups.

Your dentist and hygienist can make a full judgement of your oral condition, ensure your mouth is as clean and healthy as possible, and head off potential problems before they develop into something more serious. So, no matter your age or condition is imperative that you choose a dentist and see him or her twice a year so that they can perform a dental checkup.

But what exactly can you expect during your visits? And what is included in a dental checkup?

To get the answers, let’s take a closer look at dental exams.

Dental checkups

Each visit consists of two main parts: cleaning and examination. Two accomplish this most dental offices utilize a two-step system.

First, you will see dental hygienist. The hygienist will take an initial exam of your mouth, noting any potential concerns to report to the dentist. They will likely talk to you about their findings – though the dentist will deliver final judgement and treatment plans (if necessary). The hygienist will then clean your teeth before calling in the dentist.

The dentist will go over the hygienist’s notes and then perform a thorough examination of their own, diagnosing any problems with your teeth and gums. He or she will then order either further scans (such as X-rays) or recommend another oral specialist depending upon what they find.

If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you likely understand this routine. However, you may not be aware of what each step includes. Or what does a full oral exam look for?

Cleaning defined

During a dental visit, hygienists will thoroughly brush and rinse your teeth. A process that removes the hardened plaque (called calculus or tartar) that builds up on teeth. Brushing at home can help keep plaque buildup at bay, but you are unlikely to be able to remove it in a manner that is routine for hygienists.

For years, hygienists have utilized metal instruments to clean teeth. However, many are now using ultrasonic scalers to complete the task, which provide deep cleaning above and below the gum line.

After cleaning, your hygienist will polish your teeth – the process that gives them that ultra-smooth feel that you will savor for a couple of days after a visit. That is because the polish usually contains an abrasive substance that, when applied with a rotating rubber cup/brush, smooths the surface of your teeth unlike any instrument/substance you can utilize at home. The polish also contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth against the bacteria which cause cavities and disease.

Following this process, your hygienist will likely talk to you about the state of your mouth and what you can do to either improve your oral health at home or what the dentist may look at closer.

At this point, the dentist will take over and perform a comprehensive dental exam.

A complete exam

Your dentist should check not only your teeth and gums, but your entire mouth. And if you are a first-time patient, you can also expect them to look at your head and neck/jaw alignment (they may even do this periodically through your life, even if you have seen the same dentist throughout). This is because the dentist is looking for swelling or tenderness in your lymph nodes and salivary glands, which could indicate infection/disease.

A dentist will also check your bite, to see how well your upper and lower teeth come together.

The dentist may also utilize x-ray scans so that they may see a complete picture of the inside of your teeth and gums.

Beyond these unique tests, your dentist will also conduct regular inspection of your mouth, including soft tissues (tongue, inside of the lips, cheeks, tonsils, throat, and floor and roof of the mouth). The dentist is searching for growths or abnormalities that could indicate problems.

The dentist will also check out your gums for sign of disease, taking care to check for redness, swelling, and/or bleeding, as these are signs of gum disease. They will use a dental tool called an explorer to make this check.

And, of course, the dentist will also check your teeth, looking for cavities and/or decay, as well as check any dental structures you may have, such as fillings, bridges, crowns, etc.

It is a thorough but necessary experience, and the good news is that dentists across the profession have learned techniques and practices to help make it easier on those patients who harbor a fear of oral exams. In fact, modern dentistry has made the process so easy and enjoyable that there is no excuse to avoid a twice-yearly examination.

Missing out on those trips not only puts your teeth at risk, but also the health of your entire body, as all aspects are linked to your oral wellbeing.

Need a dentist?

If you have been missing out on dental exams or are looking for new dentist, know that Parrish-Childs Dentistry is here for you. Our full-service, friendly, and family-based approach to practice has served the health of patients throughout north Georgia for years. In fact, Dr. Parrish, DDS, and Dr. Childs, DMD, have over 40 years experienced combined.

We can offer a whole range of dental health services, and will start with a thorough exam with our highly qualified and friendly staff. Do not put off your dental care any longer! Call us today at 770-536-0581 and let us help ensure your optimum oral health.