What’s Involved In an Oral Exam?

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women seeing her teeth whitening in dentist clinic

There’s a lot more going on than meets the eye when you make a routine visit for an examination and cleaning. And while every practice may use a different procedure, the outcome is what matters.

Most visits begin with a quick history. What’s different? What medications are you taking? Do you have any concerns about your oral health? These and other questions help raise issues that the dental team will be mindful of during the course of your exam.

Once you’ve discussed your health history, he or she will perform a visual inspection of your mouth, teeth and surrounding tissues. An instrument called an “explorer” helps the dentist inspect each tooth and uncover any area for concern:

  • Check for tooth and root decay
  • Evaluate the health of your gums
  • Check your bite and jaw for problems
  • Evaluate for risk of oral health problems
  • Check face, neck and mouth for abnormalities
  • Look for signs of oral cancer
  • Check your cheeks, lips and under your tongue
  • Discuss lifestyle, diet and oral hygiene habits
  • If necessary take dental X-rays
  • Assess your need for tooth restoration

A thorough, professional cleaning is an important part of your visit.

Guided by a small mirror, the hygienist uses a scaler to remove plaque and tartar. You’ll hear a scraping sound as the space between your teeth and gum line is cleaned. While this is usually the least favourite part of the exam, tarter build up is preventable. How? Regular flossing.

With your teeth tartar-free, the hygienist will use a high-powered electric brush and gritty toothpaste to polish your teeth. This is followed by an expert flossing and rinse to complete the cleaning process.

Professional teeth cleanings are generally recommended twice a year.