What to Expect During a Routine Dental Checkup

Regular dental checkups are essential for maintaining good oral health. By visiting dental professionals on a regular basis, they will be able to detect any dental or associated health problems in their early stages and initiate the right interventions to keep them from developing into serious and costly problems.

Even with proper at-home care of your teeth and gums, you need to visit a dental hygienist regularly. Many dental problems don’t exhibit any symptoms, including pain and physical changes until they reach more advanced stages. Routine exams can help reveal early signs of gum disease, cavities, and oral cancer and initiate treatments.

A routine dental checkup may include:
– Review of your medical and dental history to identify changes in your health, such as stress, pregnancy, arthritis, new medications, etc.
– Examination of the teeth using a metal probe and small angled mirror. The dentist will check for tooth enamel softening, mouth sores, and redness or swelling of gums.
– Dental X-rays help to detect any issues below the surface of your mouth
– Assessment of your jaw joints and general oral cavity
– Checking for stains on your teeth
– Assessing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease
– Evaluating the need for tooth restoration or replacement
– Inspecting your bite and jaw for misalignment or other problems
– Evaluating your need for fluoride or sealants
– Diagnostic x-rays to check for tooth decay, cysts, tumors, tooth position, and bone loss
– Checking the condition and fit of any restorations or prosthetic
– replacements – veneers, dentures, implants, crowns, bridges
– Assessing your entire mouth – lips, cheeks, roof and floor of the mouth, jaw, neck for any problems
– Checking for oral cancer

The dentist will also clean your teeth to remove all the plaque and tartar that has built up on the surface of your teeth, gum line, and hard to reach areas of your mouth.

How often should you visit the dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), professional oral health interventions should be introduced in infancy and continued through adolescence and beyond as part of preventive dentistry.

Dental and health organizations recommend dental exams at least twice a year because gum disease and cavities are preventable, while associated health concerns like heart disease and diabetes are more manageable with early detection. However, high-risk individuals may need to see a dentist every 3 – 4 months. These include:

– Pregnant women
– Diabetics
– Smokers
– People with existing gum disease
– People at high risk of cavities
– People with weak immune response to bacterial infections

The frequency of dental exams will change during your lifetime. If your dentist determines that your at-home dental care routine is working well, your time between visits may be lengthened. Conversely, if you have stress, illness, or taking medications, more frequent visits may help to improve your health faster.