LIKE SOME PATIENTS, you may wonder why an oral examination is necessary when you visit the dentist. You may also wonder what the dentist is looking for or what an exam entails. Here is some general information that will help you become more informed about the importance of oral exams to your oral and general health.
Your dentist performs a dental exam to gather information about your oral health. The extent of the exam you will receive depends on a number of factors, including whether you are a new or returning patient, the length of time since your last dental visit; and whether you are returning to have a specific dental condition checked.
Oral health is integrally connected with your general health. Regular check-ups are important because some diseases or medical conditions have signs that can appear in the mouth. Diabetes, nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, and hormonal irregularities are some examples.
Checking for dental decay is an important part of an oral exam. We will check for signs of decay, including secondary decay around old fillings and decay of tooth roots, which may become exposed with age or due to periodontal disease. Diagnosing tooth decay early can save time, money, and your teeth! If you wear dentures, it’s important for your dentist to periodically check them for proper fit. Although they were made to fit precisely, dentures can become loose due to naturally occurring changes in your gums and bones.
Given the potential links between the bacteria that cause gum disease and systemic diseases, prevention of periodontal disease is an important step in maintaining overall health. Periodontal disease affects three out of four adults at some time in their lives. It doesn’t necessarily hurt, and you may not even be aware that you have it until an advanced stage. Regular dental visits are essential for detecting periodontal diseases at an early stage, when they can often be reversed, before the gums and the supporting bone are irreversibly damaged
During a complete dental examination, your dentist will screen for precancerous changes in the oral tissues and thus help detect cancer at a stage when it can be more successfully treated. If oral cancer is not found early, tumors may grow deep into local tissues and spread to lymph glands in the neck. When tumors invade lymph glands, there is less of a chance for effective treatment. Your dentist checks your neck and oral tissues for lumps, masses, growths, red or white patches, or recurring sore areas.
Changes in Your Health
Be sure and let us know if you have any illnesses or medical conditions and if your health status has changed since your last visit. Tell us what medications you are taking (both prescription and over the counter products) and if you have had any problems with medications
By scheduling a regular dental visit and talking with us, you can help keep your mouth healthy throughout your life.