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What You Can Expect During a Dental Exam

By Eugene D. Stanislaus on September 12, 2014


A man smiling as his teeth are examinedContrary to what some people may believe, dental problems are not immediately discernable. In most cases of tooth decay, cavities cannot be seen or felt until they have already grown into a sizable portion of the tooth. It is for this reason that regular dental exams are so important - if a problem is detected early, it can be treated more easily and before it leads to the need for additional restorative dentistry.

But dental exams are not simply about cavity detection. By keeping track of your dental and oral health, a dentist can diagnose a range of potential problems and recommend treatment both professionally and at home. If you are unsure of what to expect at your next exam, or you are curious what our Brooklyn dental practice has to offer, take note of the following preventative services.

Professional Cleanings and Additional Protection

Dental exams and cleanings are usually performed in tandem, either once or twice each year. While a professional cleaning is not intended to detect problems, but rather prevent them, it is an equally important practice in one’s oral health and should be expected at any regular dental visit. During a cleaning, the dentist or dental hygienist will first use a scaling tool to remove plaque and tartar from teeth and gums. This will expose and disperse the underlying bacteria responsible for gum disease and tooth decay. Afterward, teeth will be gently polished to create a smooth surface and therefore discourage bacteria from adhering to tooth tissue in the future.

In addition to a routine cleaning, patients may benefit from other preventative services such as fluoride treatment to strengthen teeth or dental sealants to protect the occlusal surfaces of molars. This can be especially important for younger patients whose tooth enamel is still growing and are therefore more susceptible to decay.

Detection of Disease

Tooth decay, gum disease, and other infections are best treated as early as possible. By visiting your dentist regularly, you increase your odds of detecting such problems quickly and thus benefiting from timely intervention.

  • X-ray imaging: X-rays are a staple of early cavity detection. Patients who have X-ray images taken of their teeth at recommended intervals can rest assured that any tooth decay will be caught in its earlier stages. X-rays are similarly helpful for keeping an eye on past restorations or areas of concern.
  • Detection of gum disease: Fortunately, gum disease is more easily visible than tooth decay. By simply inspecting a patient’s gums, the dentist can look for symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis and the progression of such disease. If gum disease is severe or continues to worsen, periodontal treatment can be recommended.
  • Cancer screening: Patients who have a heightened risk of oral cancer, such as smokers, heavy drinkers, older patients, and those with HPV, may wish to undergo a screening. The test is quick, easy, and pain free. Most importantly, oral cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer when detected early on.

Benefits of a Visual Exam

Not all aspects of an exam require specific technology. In fact, some of the most telling symptoms of dental problems can be recognized immediately by a trained eye. For instance, an experienced dental should be able to tell whether a patient suffers from bruxism, based on teeth that are chipped or worn in certain areas. Similarly, abrasions along teeth near the gum line may indicate aggressive brushing habits. Other health problems such as diabetes can often leave effects on one’s dental health as well, and it is through such symptoms that a dentist can help keep an eye on a patient’s overall health. Some diseases or disorders may even be first diagnosed in the dentist’s chair. A thorough visual exam is not something to be taken for granted; be sure to schedule your next visit with us if you have not yet done so.  

Come In for an Exam

Professional exams and cleanings are an essential part of your dental health, especially if you have not been to the dentist in a while. Call or email our office to set up your next appointment or to inquire about our range of general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services. 

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