To ensure good oral health it is highly recommended to get a comprehensive dental exam. Many don’t understand what this entails, however, and so we thought we’d enlighten you with some of the basics on the subject so that you can formulate your own comprehensive dental exam definition and consequently set up the appointment that you need to make sure that those pearly whites have got everything in order. Curious? Let’s proceed.
What does comprehensive dental care mean?
A comprehensive dental exam is a thorough screening designed for you as a preventative maintenance plan for your mouth. While a standard dental exam might just consist of some X-rays and a discussion on your current oral hygiene, perhaps a quick visual examination, a comprehensive exam is going to consist of many more components to ensure that you and your dentist have all of the data needed to keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy. So what might occur in a comprehensive exam?
Components that should be included in comprehensive oral evaluation:
- X-rays – Still the classic, X-rays let you and your dentist take a closer look and to help spot cavities that might be hidden from view.
- Evaluation of Dental history and trends – Your dental history can help to assess what dental traumas have been suffered in the past as well as how you dealt with particular medications. Always useful information for your dentist to have.
- Oral cancer screening – While rare, oral cancer is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Periodic examinations can help to ensure that it is caught early so that you may increase your options for an aggressive treatment. It’s also one less thing to worry about so you’ll want this to be included in your examination regimen.
- Cleaning – Keep that smile at its whitest and best with periodic cleanings. Every exam should include one of these.
- Periodontal Examination – Don’t neglect your gums! According to the CDC(Center for Disease Control), almost half 50% of American Adults have some form of periodontal disease. With odds that high, you should include a periodontal examination as part of your comprehensive dental exam to ensure that if you are among that 50% that you will be able to mitigate the worst of it through advice from your dentist.
- Jaw and bite evaluation– Examination of your jaw and how your bite fits can help the dentist to make sure that your smile is not only bright but well-aligned.
- Current medications review – With your permission, the dentist may be advised of any medications that you are currently taking. This can help ensure that if you need any more for a dental condition that the dentist can make an informed decision, avoiding or minimizing side-effects with other medications.
How often should I obtain a comprehensive oral exam?
According to the American Dental Association, a comprehensive dental exam should be performed every three years. This rate can change if you are at risk for particular dental conditions but barring this, every 3 years is not only good for you but it is paramount to maintaining good oral health and hygiene. If you are afraid of the dentist, tell them! Your dental professional is going to work hard to make you comfortable and this can include mild sedation during diagnostic procedures if needed. Your oral health is important to them and the benefits far outweigh the risk of neglecting your health. Just something to consider.
“A comprehensive dental exam should be performed every three years.”
A comprehensive evaluation of your dental hygiene can also give you a little piece of mind. Perhaps you are genetically disposed to lose your teeth a little more quickly than others? Periodic dental exams of this sort can help you to surmount this issue, increasing the lifespan of your teeth far beyond that of your parents or grandparents. Take care of your smile and you will keep it, you know.
Comprehensive dental exam for disease prevention
Getting a comprehensive dental exam puts you ahead of the curve when it comes to oral diseases and conditions that can occur as well. We’d mentioned oral cancer, but there are a number of other conditions that can be screened for and treated more effectively with early detection. Conditions such as:
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome (TMJ) – this is a pain in the jaw joint that may be caused for a number of medical reasons. Your dentist can help, offering mild or a more aggressive treatment as-needed until the pain subsides.
- Gum disease – With almost 50% odds, we cannot stress enough how important it is to ascertain if treatment is needed and get it started right away if that is the case. Gum disease can lead to infections, loose teeth, and more, so be sure to get your exams every 3 years and ensure that you can manage this disease if needed.
It can also help with such conditions as:
- Heart Disease- Research indicates that stroke and heart disease may be related to infections and to the inflammation that oral bacteria can cause. It is suggested that the bacteria that is present during the development phase of periodontal disease can get into your bloodstream, causing an increase in certain protein markers for blood vessel inflammation.
- Diabetes – Studies have shown that patients with diabetes who also have gum disease may have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Thus regular care from the dentist can actually improve diabetes control. Yet another good reason for thos periodic exams, no?
As you can see, the number of benefits that may be enjoyed by taking care of your oral hygiene are immense. It’s not just your smile, but many other factors of your health that you are managing when you pick up the phone and make an appointment to see the dentist. Just take these tips to heart and at the very least, make sure that you get your comprehensive dental exam once every 3 years. Don’t you owe it to yourself?