Dental exams are recommended on an annual or bi-annual basis, depending on the preference of the patient and the dentist. While many patients want to get their teeth cleaned or bleached without having an exam, this would be considered a breach in the State Dental Board’s “Standard of Care”.
The Dental Exam
The dental exam includes the following steps:
- A review of the medical history. All changes in the patients’ medical history and/or medications are recorded and signed by the patient.
- Dental x-rays taken yearly or a full mouth x-ray depending on the dental health of the patient. This allows inspection of the areas between the teeth and the roots of the teeth which is used for comparison with x-rays taken in the past. Any complaint of jaw pain may indicate a Panorex X-ray be taken to view the jaw joints and surrounding area.
- A visual inspection of the teeth.
- A periodontal exam reviewing the attachment depths of gum tissue around each tooth (measurements should be done once a year for normal or healthy patients and every three months for patients in for periodontal maintenance treatment).
- An oral cancer exam (see Oral Cancer).
- Your baseline blood pressure taken once a year is now considered the standard of care.
- Documentation of all existing conditions is usually done at the Comprehensive Exam.
- Limited exams focus on the a limited problem (toothache, fracture, etc.) that usually brings the patient into the office as an emergency.
Only after this exam will your Dentist discuss treatments that may be required for any issues discovered during the exam; the exam also eliminates the possibility of bleaching a tooth that has a Cavity (Tooth Decay), which would cause intense sensitivity.