Your teeth aren’t just a pearly-white cosmetic feature. They’re important in tons of daily activities that we take for granted like speaking and chewing. Since over a quarter of American adults have untreated tooth decay, it’s important to do a comprehensive screening that nips potential problems in the bud.

A comprehensive dental exam is one of the most important routine doctor’s visits that you should make. Read on to learn why these preventative oral health visits are critical for your well-being.

What Is a Comprehensive Dental Exam?

The average person should visit the dentist twice a year for a standard dental exam. During these visits, the dentist will look into the mouth with a mirror and sickle probe to make sure everything looks good. You’ll also get a teeth cleaning with a high-quality motorized brush.

A comprehensive dental exam goes into more detail than a standard semiannual one does. You should get one every 3-5 years to identify health problems that a standard exam may not catch.

During these visits, a dentist will assess pre-existing oral health conditions and look at whether problems have improved or worsened. They will also screen your teeth, analyze your gum health, and look for hidden issues in hard-to-reach areas. Ultimately, the aim is to make sure you’re well taken care of and come up with a comprehensive individualized plan to resolve any identified issues.

The visit will take longer than a normal routine dental appointment. Expect to be there between an hour and a half and two hours. An experienced dental team will give you a lot of information, so be sure to carve out a good chunk of time to make the most of your visit.

What Happens at a Full Dental Exam?

A comprehensive dental exam involves all of the same methods and equipment you’re used to at standard screenings and cleanings. A professional will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, ensure that they’re pearly white, and polish your teeth after the enamel is smooth.

They also will look at your teeth with the usual mirror and probe tools, but they’ll be more thorough. Instead of just looking for plaque and discoloration, your dentist will go through every tooth in detail. They’ll see if there are any tiny chips or subtle damage.

They’ll also look at any fillings and crowns already in your mouth. You may need to have previous dental work repaired after a few years. This is perfectly normal, but you can develop problems if you don’t get it done ASAP.

Digital Dental X-rays

Your dentist will then take several digital X-rays of your teeth to ensure that everything looks right inside your mouth. Sometimes, damage won’t be visible externally but will be obvious when the dentist looks inside your teeth.  This can help identify deep cavities or early signs of tooth decay.

It’s also possible for X-rays to catch early signs of tissue damage or gum disease. If you still don’t have your wisdom teeth, X-rays will also make sure that they’re growing in correctly and won’t displace your other teeth. It will also look at the roots of your teeth to make sure there are no nerve issues that might cause discomfort later.

Periodontal Work

In addition to having your teeth examined, a periodontal exam will happen when you have a comprehensive appointment. This is an assessment of your gums. The dentist will look at their color and see whether or not the flesh surrounding your teeth is firm.

If your gums bleed or have discoloration, it may be a sign of gingivitis. This is usually easily treatable, but it can tooth loss and decay if left unchecked. It also can develop into worse gum problems that cause lifelong irritation and inflammation, so it’s good that comprehensive exams look into possible problems that need treatment.

Oral Cancer Check

Oral cancer is a potentially life-threatening condition, but catching it early maximizes your chance of successful treatment. During a comprehensive dental screening, the dentist will check to make sure you don’t show any signs of this serious health issue.

This means checking areas of your face, neck, and cheeks to make sure there are no lumps or other abnormalities. If the dentist finds any, they’ll recommend you a full screening for oral cancer. Since they know exactly where to get these screenings and how they work, you’ll have the chance to get a lot of expert advice.

Bite Assessment

Having a good bite isn’t just cosmetic. It can stop your teeth from succumbing to uncomfortable wear-and-tear that leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. Those with misaligned bites are also more likely to contend with jaw pain and TMJ.

A full dental exam will include an evaluation of your bite. The dentist will look into whether you have any alignment issues that require braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontic devices. This will keep your smile beautiful, your confidence high, and your comfort a priority.

Cosmetic Check

Teeth naturally develop cosmetic issues over time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have pearly whites. Part of a comprehensive dental screening is a cosmetic evaluation that looks for appearance-related issues in the mouth.

Most common cosmetic problems like stains or scratches can be treated easily. Teeth whitening treatments are common, as are placing restorations. Veneers, crowns, and fillings can help your teeth look amazing, and modern technology means that they’ll match the natural white of your teeth.

Book a Comprehensive Dental Exam in Kentucky

A comprehensive dental exam can help you catch oral health issues before they become too uncomfortable. It also can save you money because problems won’t grow worse when left unidentified and untreated. Now that you know what to expect at your upcoming dental screening, it’s time to get started.

Alumni Dental Center is committed to helping you feel confident in your smile. Our team will work tirelessly to ensure that your mouth is healthy, clean, and sparkling. Contact us with any remaining questions and schedule an appointment if you don’t have one yet.