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Dental Exams

 

Little boy laughing at dentist

Have questions about what happens during a dental exam? Our dentists took some time to share some information about dental exams and answer common patient questions. View the table of contents below to learn more or find your question and get an answer from one of our dentists!

Dr. Raleigh Wright Headshot

 

 

The following content was provided by Dr. Raleigh Wright, CCO/Clinical Lead & NCSBDE Board Member, and has been medically reviewed for accuracy. Some relevant links have been added to audio transcripts to provide resources for additional information.

What happens during a dental exam?

Answer provided by Dr. Raleigh Wright. Transcript included below.

 

Dr. Wright:

So basically there are a couple of different types of exams. So one exam that we do in our offices is what we call a limited or an emergency exam and these are patients that have a problem-focused need. So they have a broken tooth or a toothache or swollen jaw or something, and it’s something that we limit our exam to that one little area and we’ll take an x-ray and we’ll diagnose what they need to do to fix that one area. The other exam, like you mentioned, is a periodic exam or a comprehensive exam where we look at all the teeth in your mouth. We look at your gums, the health of your gums. We also do oral cancer screening. We also evaluate you for sleep apnea if you have issues with that, and at that point we’ll also take all the x-rays that are needed to look in between your teeth to evaluate the teeth as well as the gums and the bone that are supporting the teeth and make sure those are healthy.

How often should I go to the dentist?

Answer provided by Dr. Raleigh Wright. Transcript included below.

 

Dr. Wright:

So everybody’s unique. So some patients like children, we would rather see more frequently because they’re developing and their teeth are growing. They’re losing baby teeth, they’re gaining adult teeth. So we like to see… The average we’d like to see people is twice a year. Some people have periodontal disease and so they’re more difficult to clean and they need to have that followed up so they don’t lose teeth. Other people have, if you have full dentures, a lot of times people think if they have full dentures, they don’t have to go to the dentist anymore.

But we do recommend you come at least once a year to see the dentist if you have dentures so that we can check your gums, the fit of your dentures, see if they’re wearing down, if you need new ones, and also make sure that, and do the oral cancer screening, make sure you don’t have any ulcers or anything going on in your mouth that needs to be looked at. But usually twice a year works. If you do have periodontal disease, some of those patients we’ll see three or four times a year to make sure we’re keeping the plaque and the tartar off of their teeth. I have a real difficulty getting the plaque and tartar off of my lower front teeth and my upper back teeth and everybody’s different. So some people do need to come more frequently.

Do I need to have my teeth cleaned every time I go to the dentist?

Answer provided by Dr. Raleigh Wright. Transcript included below.

 

Dr. Wright:

So that is also based on your specific condition. When we evaluate your teeth when you come in, some people will have very light tartar and just a little plaque on their teeth and so we can do light scaling and just polish their teeth. And that is part of the cleaning. Other people that do have a tendency to build up more tartar, it’s going to take a little bit more effort to get that off. We do have some technology that enables us to get the tartar off a little bit easier and with less discomfort. So yes, every time you come for a checkup you should have some type of cleaning and it depends on how well you’re doing with your home care in between appointments.

Can the dentist fix a cavity during a dental exam?

Answer provided by Dr. Raleigh Wright. Transcript included below.

 

Dr. Wright:

So at Lane and Associates we make every effort that if something is noticed during your cleaning exam then we will try to fix it that day. It’s going to depend on your availability to stay for a little bit longer for that appointment and also the dentist’s schedule with other patients at that time. But yes, if it’s something that can be fixed that day, we are happy to go ahead and fix it for you, save you a trip coming back and that works for everybody.