Dental exams are critical to your ongoing oral health and only your dentist is qualified to perform them. Your dentist is trained to examine the mouth for abnormalities, and will usually take x-rays to assess the teeth and jaws as well. A thorough examination of the entire mouth should be performed at regular intervals deemed appropriate by your dentist. It’s best to catch problems early on when they can be easily handled and managed. Most patients do well seeing their dentist every 6 months, but depending on your dental history, it can vary.
A proper exam includes not only the teeth, but also the soft tissue in the mouth, and the head and neck area as well. Here are some of the things your dentist looks for when conducting a dental exam:
Damaged, decayed, or missing teeth
Early signs of cavities (discoloured or softened tooth structure)
Overall health of the gums (periodontal pockets, inflammation, and other forms of gum disease)
Signs of mouth and throat cancer, which become more prominent as we age
Spacing or crowding of your teeth, and how your upper and lower teeth come together (AKA your “bite”)
Signs of grinding or clenching the teeth (which could lead to headaches and sore facial muscles if left untreated)
General condition of the jaws, and other areas around the mouth
A dental exam’s purpose is to catch dental problems as early as possible. Early discovery of dental problems usually results in treatment that is less time-consuming and less costly.