Time well spent
Early intervention and treatment is the key to your overall health and well-being, including your dental health. Most people don’t understand that, many times, pain may not be an indicator of dental disease until it becomes serious and, often times, too late. Decay can begin between the teeth and progress towards the nerve without pain. Left unchecked, it will enter the nerve and cause the dreaded toothache.
Treatment is either extraction or root canal and crown, which is certainly more expensive and time consuming than a small filling. Did you know that gum disease could eat away bone at a rapid rate with no discomfort at all? The all-important comprehensive dental exam is the first phase to a lifelong plan for your dental treatment, this thorough process diagnoses and records your dental health and maps out what dental work may be necessary. It’s similar to an architect’s blueprint that serves as a master plan for a new construction.
The comprehensive exam is a diagnosis and planning appointment that every dental patient should experience. It may take as long as an hour and a half, but it’s time well spent. During this visit, your dental team will listen to your concerns and gather facts about your medical history, which will be reviewed by the dentist before an actual exam begins. This process records the “big picture” of your dental health.
The comprehensive dental exam is important because it lets you know all about all the possible disease in your mouth and forecasts what dental work may be necessary. It represents a standard of care in dentistry and provides a patient with a yardstick to measure the integrity of the dentist. The exam is periodically updated to confirm the state of your dental health.
What to expect
The dentist will be looking for decay, bone loss, abscesses, missing teeth, cancer, tumors, extra teeth, wisdom teeth, and any other mouth abnormalities. This thorough exam will give the dentist all the necessary information to make a complete diagnosis.
The exam should include
- A medical history
- An oral cancer examination
- A periodontal evaluation to check for gum and bone disease.
- Individual teeth checked visually for decay
- Bite checked to see if teeth fit together properly
- 18 x-rays or digital images (fewer if you do not have all of your teeth) to check for decay and bone loss and any other abnormalities
- Panoramic x-ray and/or models of the teeth, if necessary
The dental disease process is the same for all ages no matter if you are 1 year old or 100 years old. The goal is to diagnose the disease before it does damage. If it has been a while for you, please make that dental appointment, for your sake.