By now, most of you know that maintaining good oral health is important to your overall health as well. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, you can help protect your oral health by seeing your dentist regularly for checkups. Regular and basic dental checkups are an easy way to make sure that we are on the right track. Most people get a dental checkup every six months, but some may need more frequent or fewer visits, depending on your dental health history.
What should you expect during your dental checkup
- Cleaning and polishing. Our dental hygienist will use a special instrument called a hand scaler or ultrasonic dental instrument to scrape and remove the tartar from your teeth. She will then polish your teeth, often with a rotating rubber cup or brush, to remove any remaining plaque or stains.
- Education. After the cleaning, we will discuss any dental hygiene problems that were detected, and show you how to brush and floss more effectively, if necessary.
- Examination. Both our dental hygienist and I will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth, to look for changes or signs of a problem (for example, a cavity or gum disease or early signs of oral cancer). During the examination, we may also use a special probe to measure the “pockets” between your teeth and gums, an explorer tool to poke at your teeth and determine if any cavities are present, and a mouth mirror to get a better view of the sides and back of your teeth. If you have any visible problems, we may recommend a particular treatment or may refer you to a specialist, such as a periodontist or orthodontist, for further treatment.
- X-rays. At some of your dental visits, it may be necessary to take X-rays of your teeth to look for decay, gum disease, or other dental problems. Even though a small amount, X-rays do expose you to radiation so in order to avoid having them done more than necessary, bring copies of previous X-rays with you when you’re visiting us as a new patient.
Sometimes you may have a more thorough dental checkup, which is called a comprehensive examination. You will likely have a comprehensive examination the first time you see us as a new patient, unless your visit is due to a dental emergency in which case the examination will focus on your current dental problem.
During a comprehensive dental examination, however, you should expect to have us
- Thoroughly examine your mouth, head, and neck
- Discuss your medical history with you
- Take a series of X-rays
Getting the Most Out of Your Dental Checkup
Since your oral health is closely related to your overall health, it’s important to communicate to us any concerns or problems you are having.
Please be sure to:
- Tell us about any new health problems you have been diagnosed with since your last visit (for example, diabetes or heart disease).
- Make a list of all medications and supplements you take, including their dosages. Bring this list with you to your dental checkup so we can review it.
- Let us know if you suffer from dental anxiety. Fear of dentist is common, and we can work with you to make you more comfortable during your checkup.
- Talk to us about any problems or changes you’ve noticed with your teeth, gums, or the inside of your mouth. The earlier we know about pain, sensitivity, or a suspicious lump, the earlier we can diagnose and treat it.
Dr Arash Asil DDS, is a dentist at Smile Design Dental Group in San Clemente, CA. Call (949) 481-2000 or click here to make an appointment.