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The mouth is often considered a window to the rest of the body because many other illnesses first present themselves as changes within the mouth. For example, advanced gum disease can cause tooth loss and other serious issues such as oral cancer, which claims the lives of 7,500 people every year. As a result, a comprehensive oral exam is recommended each time you visit a new practice to serve as a benchmark of your overall health.
What to Expect During a Dental Exam
During an examination, your dentist will perform a visual examination as well as a more detailed dental examination using one or more X-rays to detect:
- New cavities
- Weaknesses in previously placed crowns, fillings, and bridgework
- Gum or bone recession
- Tooth wear due to abnormal bite, bruxism, or TMJ
Your dentist will also perform a visual and digital examination of lymph nodes throughout the face and neck, looking for any abnormalities, pain or flexibility within the nodes that could be markers for disease. Likewise, a similar examination of your lips, gums, tongue, and other internal mouth surfaces will be conducted.
During the examination you may expect the following:
- An evaluation of your overall health and oral hygiene
- An evaluation of your teeth, gums and jaw
- An evaluation of your bite
- The removal of any stains or deposits on your teeth
- A demonstration of proper cleaning techniques for your teeth or dentures
- An assessment on your need for fluoride treatment
- Dental X-rays or, if necessary, other diagnostic procedures
Why are Dental Exams Important?
The comprehensive dental exam is designed to set a baseline of your health and to catch any early signs of serious illness that may otherwise be undetected. The American Dental Association recommends getting one at least twice a year. Doing so is instrumental for avoiding pain, tooth loss, and expensive restorative dentistry procedures. Your dentist will be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of the following illnesses which can be detected during a comprehensive oral evaluation:
- Blood pressure
- Cardiovascular problems
- Oral cancer
- Immune abnormalities
- Sinus problems
- Advanced gum disease
With a comprehensive exam every six months, we can manage small dental problems before they grow into larger, more complicated issues. Keep up to date with thorough dental checkups at Sullivan Family Dentistry. Call us at 573-468-3289 to schedule an appointment.