Your first visit at our dental office, consultation will include a comprehensive examination in order to become familiar with your dental health. This will allow the dentist to notice changes or problems more easily during future visits.
An important part of every visit is updating your medical history. The dentist will want to know if you’ve had any changes in your health or your medicines since your last visit.
Mention everything about your health, even if you don’t think it relates to your mouth. Many diseases can affect your mouth and teeth. Researchers continue to discover ways in which oral health is related to overall health. For example, people with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease. Research also suggests that periodontal infection can affect your blood sugar levels. It can make your diabetes harder to control. Other health conditions may require your dentist to change the type of anesthesia given.
Bring a list of all medicines you take, with dosages. Some medicines cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk of cavities. Your dentist also will want to check that any drug he or she prescribes doesn’t interact with drugs you are already taking.
The dentist needs to know everything that may help him or her diagnose problems or treat you appropriately.
Tell your dentist:
Many people have fears of the dentist that go back to childhood. Pain control and treatment techniques change constantly. The things you fear most may not exist any longer, or there may be new and improved ways of dealing with them. If you fear you have a particular disease or condition, let your dentist know. He or she can look for signs and either diagnose the problem or set your mind at ease. Often, just talking about your fears will take some of the edge off.
Your overall health
Tell your dentist if you’ve been diagnosed with any diseases or are taking any new medicines. It is important to tell your dentist about all medicines you take. This includes prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines. Even diseases that seem to be unrelated to the mouth may require a different approach to dental treatments or prevention.
Your dental health
Before the examination starts, tell your dentist if:
- You think you have a new cavity
- Your teeth have become sensitive
- You feel lumps inside your mouth
By telling your dentist your symptoms, you may help him or her make an early diagnosis.
During a comprehensive examination, your dentist will look at much more than just your teeth. He or she will check other areas inside and outside your mouth for signs of disease or other problems. You likely will receive these evaluations:
Head and neck
The dentist will check your head and neck, temporomandibular (jaw) joint, salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area.
He or she will look at your face, neck and lips to make sure there are no unusual swellings, lip dryness, bleeding or other abnormalities that need to be checked further.
Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that guides your lower jaw when you open your mouth. It’s often called the TMJ. To see if the joint is working properly, your dentist will ask you to open and close your mouth and to move your lower jaw from side to side. You will be asked if you have had any pain or soreness in the joint. Your dentist may touch the joint while you open and close your mouth. This allows the dentist to feel for hitches or catches in movement that may indicate problems.
The dentist also will touch salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area. Swelling or tenderness there may indicate infection or disease.
The soft tissues of the mouth include the tongue, the inside of the lips and cheeks, and the floor and roof of the mouth. Your dentist will check for spots, cuts, swellings, growths or other abnormal areas.
A periodontal examination involves checking the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. First, the dentist will look at the gums for signs of redness or puffiness. He or she may poke them gently to see how easily they bleed.These symptoms may indicate gum disease. Your dentist may use a special probe to measure t between your teeth and your gums. Pockets deeper than 3 millimeters often indicate periodontal disease.
The dentist may check how well your teeth fit together by examining your bite. First, you will be asked to bite naturally. If the teeth don’t seem to fit together properly, your dentist may have you bite down on special wax or paper. Your teeth make an impression in the wax that can help show how your teeth meet. The paper makes temporary marks on your teeth that show where your teeth come together.
Clinical examination of teeth
The dentist will check for decay by looking at every tooth surface (using a mirror to see the back sides of teeth). He or she also will poke your teeth with a tool called an explorer to detect cavities. Decayed tooth enamel is softer than healthy enamel. If you have fillings, permanent bridges, crowns or other restorations, your dentist will check to make certain that they remain whole and sound and that the teeth around them have no sign of decay.
X-rays, also called radiographs, will be taken to help your dentist look for decay (cavities) or other oral healt) or other oral health problems that cannot be seen during the clinical exam. X-rays also provide the best way for the dentist to see a need for root canal treatment, or bone loss that may indicate advanced gum disease.