Many dental issues are not sudden developments, and issues can be avoided and preventable if you have frequent dental exams and check-ups. These dental practices are aimed at keeping your teeth and gums healthy, which is a very crucial part of preventive oral health care. If you need to contact a reliable and expert dentist in Encino, California, you can get in touch with the Encino Dentist. We will help you care for your teeth and help detect any problems early when they are still treatable. We also have emergency dentists that can handle emergency dental problems such as oral pain and trauma, restorative emergencies, oral and surgical conditions, and orthodontic emergencies. Below is what you need to know about our dental exams and check-up services.
Dental Examinations and Check-Ups
A regular dental visit is made of two parts; a dental check-up or an exam and dental cleaning. During a dental check-up, the dentist will examine your overall oral health to see if you risk developing any oral health issues. They’ll check your tongue, mouth, throat, face, and neck for any abnormalities like swelling, redness, any signs of cancer or for any cavities or gum disease. The dentist might take an x-ray to detect any cavities between your teeth.
A dental examination also includes checking your teeth for plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that coats your teeth. If it isn’t removed when it’s soft, it hardens and forms tartar. Tartar is removed by a dental professional using special tools through a process called scaling. If plaque and tartar accumulate on your teeth, they might result in oral diseases.
The dentist might also examine your gums. The examination is done using a special instrument that measures the deepness of space between your gums and teeth. Healthy gums should have shallow spaces between them. When you have gum diseases, the spaces are deeper. Afterward, the dentist will scale your teeth. They often may also polish your teeth using a gritty paste; this helps in removing any stains on the surface of your teeth. The last step is to floss your teeth; this is done using dental floss. Flossing is done to clean the areas between your teeth.
What You Should Expect During A Dental Examination and Check-Up
A routine dental exam and check-up involve the following procedures and steps:
- Intake of your medical history
Once you arrive at your dentist, you’ll be asked questions to enable them to know more about your oral health. Your dentist will ask if you have any health issues or if you’re taking any medications that can affect your oral health. For example, if you have diabetes, you have a high chance of getting gum disease. If you are taking any medicine that leads to dryness of the mouth, you are at high risk of tooth decay. In case you have arthritis, and it’s interfering with your capability of brushing your teeth effectively, your dentist might recommend an electric or powered toothbrush or demonstrate to you how to fit your toothbrush handle into a rubber ball for more comfortable use. In case you have a prosthetic replacement like bridges or dentures, your dentist will assess how well they fit and talk about any need for adjustments. The dental examination might also involve counseling about your diet, the use of products that have tobacco, and other lifestyle factors that could affect oral health.
After gathering all the required information, your dentist will assess your jaw, gums, teeth, and supporting structures. They will evaluate the following:
- Assess your oral hygiene and general health
- Assess if you have a root decay, tooth decay, bone or gum disease
- Assess if you need a tooth replacement or a tooth restoration
- Examine if you have a problem on your jaw and your bite
- Remove any deposits or stains on your teeth
- Demonstrate proper techniques of cleaning dentures or your teeth
- Evaluate if you need fluoride
- If need be, take x-rays or do other diagnostic procedures
In most cases, X-rays are not necessary at every visit at the dentist, but they are vital as they allow your dentist to see images of your mouth in detail. They also detect abnormalities that would not be visible to the naked eyes. Different types of dental x-rays include:
- Panoramic X-ray - This X-ray enables the dentist to have a broad view of your entire mouth
- Periapical X-ray - This allows the dentist to see the whole tooth and the surrounding bone
- Bitewing X-ray - This enables the dentist to see the crowns of the upper and lower teeth. This type of X-ray requires you to bite on the X-ray film holder as the images are captured
- Occlusal X-ray - This enables the dentist to check how the upper and lower teeth fit together when you close your jaw
- Cone beam computerized tomography - This allows the dentist to have a 3-D view of your mouth so that they can better estimate the spacing of the teeth and the surrounding structures
- Dental cleaning
After doing a dental exam, the dentist will scrape off any tartar formed on your teeth and under your gums. Most dentists will do dental cleaning using ultrasonic cleaning equipment. After scraping off the tartar, your teeth will be polished then your dentist will advise you on proper techniques of flossing and brushing to help in maintaining proper hygiene.
- Examining the results
Once the tartar has been removed, your dentist will do a dental examination using both X-ray and the naked eye to see whether there might be any dental deformities and also to evaluate whether you might be facing any risk of dental abnormalities in future.
- Oral Cancer Examination
Because of the increase in the number of cases of oral cancer, your dentist might do a mouth screening to check for any signs. They will check under your jaw, inside your lips and cheeks, the sides of your tongue, neck, and the roof and floor of your mouth. Oral cancer is a severe condition, and it might occur in different ways. It can spread very fast and become life-threatening if not discovered early. If diagnosed early, it can be treated easily.
After the scrapping, polishing, cleaning and checking for any abnormalities, your dentist will treat you and discuss any discovery or concerns. If they discover any severe conditions, they’ll refer you to consult an expert on the issue you are facing. Otherwise, they’ll give you guidance on how to care for your teeth to avoid any problems in the future.
How You Should Prepare Yourself for a Dental Check-Up
Since you now understand the procedure of a dental check-up, you should not fear going for a regular dental check-up. Before visiting a dentist, you need to know your radiation history, medical history and if you have any allergies. Regularly visiting your dentist will help you detect oral problems early before they quickly spread to other parts of your mouth, and maintaining a regular cleaning schedule might save you money, time and any potential oral health problems in the future.
How Often You Should Do a Dental Examination
Your dentist will collect information about your oral health and use it to schedule an appointment for your regular check-up, cleaning, and maintenance. Generally, if you have a healthy mouth, your dentist will recommend visiting them every six months. However, if you have any oral risk or you have high-risk components for periodontal diseases, your dentist will recommend frequent visits to address those specific issues. How healthy your teeth and gums are and whether you have potential risk for any problems in the future will determine how frequently you should visit a dentist.
Dental Examinations for Babies and Children
A dental check-up for a baby does not entail much. A parent or caregiver will often carry the baby on their lap the entire time. The dentist will check the baby’s mouth by rubbing their finger on the baby’s teeth and gums and looking inside to ensure they’re in good shape. The dentist will discuss with you:
- Teething and milestone development
- Tooth decay caused by the baby’s bottle
- How to take care of your baby’s mouth
- How food affects oral health
For a child, the dentist might take an X-ray of the child’s teeth. The X-ray is done once every year to check development, look for any abnormalities and early signs of cavities. The dentist will scale your child’s teeth to remove any plaque and tartar then finish up by polishing and flossing the teeth. If the child has molars, the dentist will check to see if the child needs sealants. Molar sealants are thin plastic coatings placed on the back of a child’s teeth to protect them from cavities or tooth decay.
Follow Up Appointments
It is important to go back to your dentist for a follow-up visit after completing extensive dental work like dental implant surgery or tooth extraction, to ensure that you’ve been healing well, to check that prosthetics are placed successfully and to ensure that your teeth and mouth are in good health. The dentist will be able to advise if you have any infections or any other issues.
If you miss your follow-up appointment, minor issues might go unchecked and undetected and later turn into more significant problems that might require extensive dental work. Some of the issues include:
If you’ve undergone oral surgery, you are at risk of getting infections though some patients are at high risk of getting infections than others. To avoid infections, you need to follow the instructions on how to care for your mouth as given by your dentist. During the follow-up visit, your dentist might detect if you have any infections and prescribe antibiotics or other medications that will prevent further issues.
Whether a tooth has come out because of hard impact, poor oral hygiene or a dentist has removed it, the jawbone area where the tooth was located will become brittle and begin to shrink. It is important to attend a follow-up visit so that your dentist can discuss with you treatment options like dental implants that will preserve your bone density. Otherwise, your jaw bone might erode away which will eventually affect your ability to speak normally or chew.
After tooth extraction, a condition known as dry socket, which is very painful, might develop. Dry socket happens when blood fails to clot at the site of extraction. It may also occur when the blood clots dislodge or dissolve before proper healing. A follow-up visit will enable your dentist to check your healing progress and check for any signs of a developing dry socket. In case you show any signs the dentist will start treatment immediately.
Shifting teeth occurs when your teeth are not aligned. It might happen as a result of failed dental implants, ill-fitted crowns or bridges. Although shifting teeth is not a serious issue, it can be problematic as it might change your bite which might create so much pressure on some of your teeth. However, some of your teeth might not be getting enough pressure leading to the loss of your bone density. During a follow-up visit, your dentist will use an X-ray or other methods to check that everything fits well.
Protracted Orthodontic Treatment
Braces and similar orthodontic treatments are meant to straighten your teeth and revamp the look of your smile. Your dentist will need to make adjustments through the entire process to ensure your progress is on course. If you fail to go for follow up visits your braces may not fit well which may lead to prolonged treatment and development of more orthodontic issues. A dental professional is the only person who can tell if the procedure was a success and whether you are healing well.
Some of the Most Common Dental Procedures that Need a Follow-Up
It is important to honor your follow-up appointments after undergoing the following dental procedures:
- Dental implant surgery - This is a procedure that replaces the root area of a missing tooth with metal, screw-like posts with an artificial tooth. The implants are made of titanium metal which fuses with the jaw bone. The process might take longer to heal, and routine follow-up visits are essential to make sure the implant is healing well.
- Extractions - A tooth extraction means to have your tooth or teeth removed. Even a minor tooth extraction might need a follow up to check if the gums are healing well and if there are any signs of a dry socket or an infection. Sometimes the follow up might involve removing sutures.
- Crowns - A crown is a cover that is put on a tooth to restore the tooth to its normal shape, size and function. Temporary crowns don’t last for long, and you’ll need to go for a follow-up appointment for the temporary crown to be replaced with a permanent dental crown.
- Braces - Dental braces are devices used to straighten crooked teeth. Braces and similar orthodontic treatment require regular follow up visits to check if your teeth are aligned, monitor the progress and make adjustments as needed.
- Dentures - A denture is a removable device that can replace your missing teeth and enhance your smile, facial appearance, and self-confidence. If you’ve been fitted with a denture, you’ll need to go for routine follow up visits to make sure your new plates are well fitting, that you feel comfortable and that your overall functionality is improved.
- Emergency dental surgeries - Most dental surgeries, especially those considered emergencies, need a follow-up visit. The follow-up is important for your dentist to check for any infections, any signs of dry socket and to remove sutures. Temporary treatment may have been used depending on the situation to stop the bleeding or pain, but a complete surgery needs to be done to fix the problem completely.
Many people will have to deal with at least one dental emergency during their lifetime. The emergency might either cost you an expensive surgery or a minor inconvenience if you know how to deal with dental emergencies. Below are some of the issues to look out for and deal with early to avoid emergencies:
- Swelling of your tongue, gums, lips or other areas of your mouth
- Minor or major pain
- Knocked out or avulsed teeth
Dental emergencies require quick attention from a dentist. If you face any of these conditions, contact a dentist immediately.
Find a Dentist Near Me
The American Dental Association recommends regular dental visits to improve your oral health. Whether you have natural teeth or not, it’s essential to schedule regular dental exams and check-ups for healthy teeth. At Encino Dentist, we have a team of professional dentists who will take care of your teeth to prevent future problems. We understand that a dental visit can make you anxious and we will ensure that you are comfortable during your treatment. Get in touch with us today at 818-650-0429 to schedule an appointment.