Routine dental exams are essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Additionally, they can help to avoid the financial costs associated with large treatment plans later on. The Academy of General Dentistry recommends checkups every 6 months for people of all ages. At this frequency, most problems can be discovered early and before they develop into a more serious issue.
The dentist first examines your mouth visually, using dental equipment such as mouth mirrors, dental picks, and high intensity lights. They will look for cracked and decayed teeth, as well as review other important items such as:
- Medical history review: The dentist will assess how any new medical conditions or medications may affect your dental health.
- Examination of tooth decay: Your mouth will be checked for cracked or decayed teeth.
- Oral cancer screening: The face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums will be checked for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation: Your gums and bone around the teeth will be checked for any evidence of periodontal disease.
- Examination of existing restorations: Current fillings, crowns, and other dental work are evaluated to make sure they are in good working order.
Additionally, your dentist will take diagnostic x-rays to reveal any other hidden problems, especially in the areas below the gums. Four Bitewing x-rays are typically taken every 12 months and a panoramic x-ray, which revolves around the head, is taken every 3-5 years. A full mouth series (x-rays of every tooth) will be taken once every five years or at your initial visit.