Dental associations recommend that all patients over the age of three visit their family or general dentist every six months. During this visit, patients undergo a thorough dental cleaning and an in-depth examination of their teeth, gums, and entire mouth. The following procedures can be expected during a twice-yearly dental examination.
The dentist or hygienist will use a small mirror and pick to examine every surface of each tooth in search of cavities, fillings that may need to be replaced, calcification, and to test the strength of the enamel coating your teeth.
X-rays will always be taken on a patient's first visit to a dental practice, and they may be repeated during subsequent visits if new issues (broken teeth, infection) arise. The X-ray allows the dentist to examine the health of portion of teeth below the gum line as well as the overall health of the mouth and jaw structure.
The dentist or hygienist will gently probe the patient's gums for swelling, discoloration, or pockets (where the gums pull away from the teeth), all of which could be signs of gum (periodontal) disease.
Head and Neck Examination
The dentist may feel the glands in the patient's neck to detect any potential issues or abnormalities. The dentist may also inspect the area where the jaw meets the skull (just below the ear) to test for TMJ disorders.
The final step in a dental examination is a one-on-one consultation, during which the dentist discusses any issues discovered during the exam and advises the patient on the best oral hygiene practices for that particular patient.