WHAT MAKES UP A DENTAL EXAMINATION?
Perhaps surprisingly the last step of a dental examination is an inspection of the teeth. A number of the steps that comprise a complete dental examination are:
A review of your medical history (a verbal discussion or in written form followed by a verbal discussion). As your dentists we should have a complete list of any: illnesses or operations you have had; medications you are taking, both prescribed and purchased over the counter; allergies to medications, foods, or other things. We should know if you are pregnant or if there is anything else about your health that you are aware of.
A review of your dental history. We will want to know how long it has been since the last time you have had any type dental treatment and how long it has been since your last dental examination and cleaning. It is important for us to know if there have been any problems or complications encountered during dental treatment in the past (for example, a reaction to a local anesthetic). If there are any special considerations necessary during your treatment we should know about these as well.
A discussion of apprehension you may have about dental treatment. This would include identifying anything done at a past appointment that made it stressful for you and anything you are concerned will happen at the current or a future appointment. A strategy to address any misgivings can then be developed.
An examination of the TMJ (jaw joint, located on either side of the head just in front of each ear). We will ask questions about such things as clicking, grinding noises, or pain you may have noticed in this area or if your jaw has ever locked open or closed. We will examine the jaw joint, the muscles that move the joint, movement of the jaw and your bite.
An examination of the soft tissues of the mouth. We will look for anything that needs attention or must be checked periodically and inspect your mouth for signs of oral cancer.
An evaluation of the bite (the way the upper and lower teeth move against each other). The bite will be evaluated to determine if it is stable and healthy or if future trouble can be predicted but prevented. For example, the position the teeth have grown into may lead to future functional problems that are avoidable if the teeth are repositioned by orthodontic treatment (braces). As well, if some teeth are missing the remaining teeth can drift into new positions on their own leading to future functional problems that are avoidable by replacing the missing teeth.
Determining if gum disease is present. A record of the indicators of gum disease will be made to determine what treatment is required and for future comparison to evaluate the healing process. The presence and degree of gum disease, along with how well the teeth and mouth are cared for at home, are an important determining factor in how often it is necessary to have a dental examination and cleaning.
Checking partial or complete dentures. The fit, function, comfort and condition of the denture(s) and how the health of the underlying tissues and supporting teeth are affected must be determined.
At last, checking the teeth. Among other things we will be checking: which teeth are present, which are missing; the condition of existing restorations (fillings, crowns, bridges, etc.); for new decay or tooth fractures and anything else that may show a current or future problem.
Attending to any areas that have a specific problem (discomfort, a change in appearance you have noticed, etc.) are evaluated separately. A review of the history, symptoms, and signs along with x-rays and some special test will help determine the cause and required
For complete denture wearers a visit to the dentist is every bit as important as it is for patients with natural teeth. It is essential for your health that steps 1 to 5 of the above examination outline be done periodically. Problems with the function of your dentures may be related to the manner in which they bite together (evaluated in step 6 above). If the shape of your mouth is such that even the best fitting denture can not provide the comfort and function you want your we can determine if improvement is possible using dental implants to support your denture or replace your missing teeth.
At your convenience, please call and arrange a dental examination.