Comprehensive Oral Exam
What Is A Comprehensive Oral Exam
A comprehensive oral exam is a general examination of your oral and dental health in order to prevent and diagnose diseases and problems. Many diseases can be prevented if they are discovered early on. During the exam, your dentist may check for signs of diabetes, blood pressure, leukemia, cancer, sinus problems, cardiovascular problems and immune abnormalities.
All areas linked to oral health are examined including the lymph nodes in the neck and face, for pain and abnormalities, among other symptoms. The exam is used to detect cavities, weaknesses in previous dental work, bone and gum recession and teeth deterioration. The routine procedure may also include cavity detection, digital x-rays, an intraoral and extraoral exam, an oral cancer screening, a gum exam and a gum disease screening.
When Should It Be Done?
Only your dentist can properly gauge the state of your oral health, which is important to your general health as well. Comprehensive oral exams should be carried out every 3 to 5 years, any time major dental work is planned, or if you have recently been diagnosed with a medical condition.
Your dentist should be notified of any new symptoms, health conditions, new medications, pregnancy or if you are a smoker. Recall exams are scheduled once every year to make sure no changes happen in the oral cavity during the maintenance period.
A cavity, or otherwise known as dental caries, is tooth decay caused by bacterial acid’s destruction of the enamel and dentin. Although modern use of fluoride in water and in toothpaste has made people’s enamel harder and more resistant to decay, cavities can still form underneath the exterior and inside the softer part of the tooth. This can be prevented by brushing teeth frequently to remove plaque build-up. Without treatment the cavity will expand, potentially leading to infections and losing the tooth altogether. It is best to catch cavities in their early stages during a check up to prevent these consequences. Routine x-rays are the only way to help with early detection. The initial x-ray will determine how prone you are to cavities, what is normal for you and will establish a base line for your oral health. From there, your dentist will decide how often you need x-rays at preventative appointments.