Woman receiving a dental treatmentBesides detecting dental problems per se, regular dental exams are important for detecting various kinds of diseases which may show symptoms in your mouth. These include heart disease, anemia, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, celiac disease, osteoporosis, and cancer. To detect any cancer, the dentist will feel along your gums and tongue, and the roof and floor of your mouth.

If you are a new patient, the dentist will ask you about any medical conditions you have, including what medications you take, or have you fill out that information on a form. It’s important to tell the dentist about any changes to this information during subsequent appointments.

Here are some of the things that a dentist or dental technician may do during a routine visit

  • Evaluate your oral health and sufficiency of your oral hygiene. Some patients, for example, may not be aware that their brushing or flossing is not reaching some areas.
  • Perform diagnostic procedures, as needed, such as dental x-rays. The dentist can only visually inspect what’s on the surfaces in your mouth, but x-rays can spot problems hidden by your gums. The images of your teeth are transmitted to a computer screen.
  • Here are some of the kinds of x-rays your dentist may take:
    • Bitewing. The dentist does this type of x-ray to see the crowns of your upper and lower teeth. The dentist or technician will have you bite down on the x-ray film holder while the x-rays are being taken.
    • Periapical. With this type of x-ray, the dentist can see the entire tooth and the surrounding bone.
    • Occlusal. This type of x-ray shows the dentist the way the upper teeth and lower teeth fit together when the jaw is closed.
  • Evaluate your risk of tooth decay and gum or bone disease.
  • Determine how much fluoride you’re getting through your diet and use of oral hygiene products.
  • Determine what tooth restoration or tooth replacement you may need.
  • Demonstrate proper hygiene for your teeth or dentures. Some patients may not be fully aware of such things as proper brushing and flossing techniques and their needed frequency.
  • Remove any stains or deposits from your teeth. This can help discover problems at an early stage.
  • Check your bite and jaw for problems such as TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) problems.