What to expect during the dental exam:
During the exam, your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay, gum disease and other health problems. Your dentist may also want to take X-rays to see what is happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. These X-rays will help your dentist discover dental issues not visible to the naked eye. A head and neck assessment is included to detect inflammatory diseases, signs of GERD, hypophosphatemia and even cancer
Your dental professional will carefully clean your teeth with a variety of tools to remove any hard mineral buildup (tartar) from your teeth. Then she will floss your teeth, use a polishing compound and apply fluoride. Cleanings usually aren’t painful, but if you have any anxiety about your dental exam, be sure to let your hygienist know. They may offer several sedation options to ensure your comfort. If your dentist or hygienist finds tooth decay or gum disease, they will talk to you about changing your brushing or flossing habits. In severe cases, they may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments.
Some children have dental sealants – a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth (typically the premolars and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. It is very important to have your dentist check the teeth that have been sealed for signs of leakage or chipped areas. Your dentist checks on the integrity of the sealants when they are doing an oral examination. Your dentist will recommend patching up or replacing sealants if they see the need to do so. Children who have regular exams usually are able to keep their sealants in their mouth longer. Sealants, when gone unchecked for a long period of time can leak and be an area where cavity causing bacteria can establish a home and cause decay of that surface of the tooth.
Fluoride treatment from your dentist
A fluoride treatment in your dentist’s office takes just a few minutes. After the treatment, patients may be asked not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, you may be required to have a fluoride treatment every three, six, or 12 months. Your doctor may also prescribe an at-home fluoride product such as a mouthwash, gel or antibacterial rinse.
Things to discuss with the dentist:
- Remember to schedule regular checkups with the dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
- Ask the dentist about dental sealants, protective plastic coatings that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
- If your child plays sports, ask your dentist about special mouthguards designed to protect their smile.