Understanding what is included in a complete dental examination allows you to be an active participant who works with your dental professional to maintain and improve your oral health care.
Dental problems can grow quickly and lead to worsening infections, tooth loss, and an unattractive appearance, making regularly scheduled dental examinations vital to maintaining a healthy mouth and teeth. Regular dental examinations will keep your mouth healthy and your smile beautiful.
This is why most dental plans will cover two complete dental examinations and cleanings a year. These exams look for signs of tooth decay, periodontal disease, as well as any problems with your bite, which can affect your oral health. Finding problems early can usually help prevent more complicated and expensive dental work later.
Of course, every dental examination looks for tooth decay (or cavities) that is caused by acids that are produced by certain kinds of bacteria present in the mouth. These acids dissolve tooth structure and can cause cavities in the teeth.
Some cavities are easy to see, but some are hard to find, necessitating the use of a dental explorer, which sticks slightly when it contacts decayed surfaces on the tops and sides of your teeth. X-rays also reveal decay inside and between teeth as dark spots.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the teeth and gums that causes the jawbone to recede and the gums to pull away from the tooth, creating pockets in the gums. Since you may have no pain or other symptoms with periodontal disease, a complete dental examination will begin with a visual examination combined with a periodontal probe, and x-rays to look for problems.
Visual signs of periodontal disease include red and swollen gums. A periodontal probe is used to measure the depth of the gums from the bottom of the pocket where it is attached to the tooth to the top of the gums.
A probe reading of more than 3 millimeters is a sign of periodontal disease, and the deeper the pockets, the greater the spread of the disease. Sometimes gums bleed when we probe them; bleeding is also a sign of infection. Healthy gums do not bleed.
X-rays also reveal a lot about periodontal disease. In a healthy mouth, the bone comes up high around the necks of the teeth, and it is even throughout the mouth. In advanced periodontal disease, the bone level is much lower and often uneven.
The final major portion of a complete dental examination is your bite. When you chew, a healthy bite allows all of your teeth to hit simultaneously, your chewing muscles to contract evenly, and your jaw joint to be seated into its proper position.
A bad bite or misaligned teeth can trap plaque and bacteria leading to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Bite problems can cause tooth grinding and clenching, tooth sensitivity, and the loss of tooth structure near the gum-line. They can also contribute to difficulties with your jaw joint, and cause TMJ.
If you havent had a complete dental examination within the last six months, schedule it today. It will help you keep your mouth and teeth healthy and your smile gleaming.
Cosmetic implant dentistry is a specialized field that requires extensive knowledge and experience to be done correctly. The Medical Center Dental Group in Houston, Texas brings all of that and more to the direct benefit of each and every patient we treat. Although we are located in the world famous Houston Medical Center at Scurlock Towers, we routinely see dental patients who travel from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Beaumont and Midland Texas to see Dr. Dale Brant, Dr. Charles Campbell or Dr. Elizabeth OSullivan-Winslow for their cosmetic denistry services.