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    Dental Exams and Check-Ups


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    Oral hygiene is key to eliminating mouth bacteria. The accumulation of bacteria can harden, developing into tartar and resulting in long-lasting dental complications such as periodontitis and gingivitis. One way to maintain proper oral hygiene is to go for routine dental check-ups and exams. Having routine dental check-ups will assist you in keeping your gums and teeth free of decay, tooth loss, and inflammation.

    Following a routine becomes easier if you go for a dental check-up near you since visiting will be less like a duty. At The Lakewood Dentist, we are committed to reviewing our patients’ overall health and teaching them the best oral hygiene practices. We use state-of-the-art equipment in our dental procedures, including exams and checkups, to ensure the most accurate results. Call us for a consultation if you wish to undergo any dental treatment or procedure in Lakewood, CA.

    Dental Check-Ups and Exams Overview

    A dental check-up or exam is a procedure that entails a rigorous review of a patient’s teeth, lips, gums, tongue, saliva, and mouth. Tooth flossing and brushing, dental check-ups, and exams are critical to a person’s dental hygiene habits. Dental hygiene includes anything that assists in preventing dental diseases and keeping the mouth healthy, including gums, teeth, and the bones and muscles that let a person smile, chew, and speak. The two primary dental-related diseases are gum disease and cavities (tooth decay). These can result in infection, tooth loss, and pain.

    Poor dental or oral health may also impact your overall health. For example, tooth loss can cause issues with nutrition and eating, resulting in other health issues. You can prevent dental and general oral health issues with routine dental visits and proper at-home flossing and toothbrushing habits. Routine check-ups and exams can assist in catching possible dental issues early enough when they can easily be treated.

    Dental exams and check-ups often occur in dental clinics. They are performed by dental professionals like dental hygienists, general dentists, oral health therapists, dental therapists, or, at times, dental students. In particular cases, you will see a hygienist and a dentist simultaneously. A general dentist specializes in caring for gums and teeth and treating related problems. In contrast, a hygienist specializes in cleaning teeth and teaching how to properly care for the gums and teeth.

    Dentists treat patients of any age. Additionally, there are pediatric dentists specializing in child dental care. Other names for a dental exam or check-up are oral hygiene, oral exam, dental prophylaxis, and dental hygiene.

    Dental check-ups and exams are generally performed to:

    The Frequency of Scheduling Dental Check-Ups and Exams

    Standard practice recommends scheduling dental check-ups and exams twice a year for both children and adults. However, no two people are the same. Thus, you want to speak with your dental professional to determine how frequently you should set up your dental exam and check-up appointments. You might need to undergo dental examinations and check-ups more frequently if you:

    After your exam and check-up, your dental professional will suggest a date for your next visit. The period until your next visit could be as short as three months or as long as two years (or one year if you are below 18), based on how healthy your gums and teeth are and your risk of future problems.

    Generally, the more minimal your likelihood of developing dental problems, the longer you can take before your next exam, and vice versa. Thus, individuals with good oral and dental health will likely need to visit the dentist only once in one or two years, while those with higher chances of developing more severe problems will need check-ups and exams more frequently. 

    Do not wait for your regular dental exam if you experience tooth pain, dark red, bleeding, swollen gums, or other mouth discomforts. Call your dental professional immediately.

    Infants should be taken for their initial dental visit six months after growing their first milk tooth, or by the time they turn one. Ask your infant’s pediatrician how frequently your child should undergo a dental examination and check-up. Most infants should undergo check-ups and dental exams twice a year.

    What Happens at a Dental Examination or Check-Up Appointment?

    Expect a general dentist or hygienist to attend to you at a standard dental check-up and examination visit. Most exams and check-ups last between forty-five and sixty minutes and will start with an overview of your dental history. A dental examination and check-up procedure include the following:

    Dental History Review

    Before your dentist or hygienist does anything to your mouth, they will review your dental history, including whether that is your first appointment, any alterations in your medicines (such as current medication), arthritis, diabetes, and pregnancy, among others. The dentist will also want to know your allergies, anxieties, and general health concerns. This will help them provide the dental service you deserve without compromising your health.

    Note that informing your dentist of any anxieties you have is critical. Do not be a hero, and try to be brave. Most patients fear their dentists and are afraid to speak up. However, all you need as a patient is an explanation and listening to your fears to make the appointment comfortable and more relaxing.

    Scaling and In-Depth Teeth Cleaning

    The initial step of dental cleaning is known as scaling. Your dental hygienist or dentist will use small metal equipment to scrape off tartar, plaque, and stains from the teeth below and at your gumline.

    Plaque is a sticky bacterial film that starts forming on teeth after eating. Flossing and brushing remove plaque, although not entirely. If you allow plaque to accumulate on teeth, it could cause dental cavities and damage the bone and tissue around the teeth, resulting in tooth loss. The scaling process removes the plaque material that standard flossing and brushing leave behind.

    On the other hand, tartar refers to a hard matter that can develop with time from the plaque that is not scraped off of teeth. Tartar could accumulate along your gum line, leading to gingivitis (red and swollen gums). This can result in tooth loss and more severe gum infections. Tartar deposits and stains are more challenging to eliminate than standard plaque. Only professional scaling and advanced tools can remove it correctly, and professional teeth cleanings can stop or prevent its formation.

    If you have substantial gingivitis or a substantial accumulation of tartar on your teeth, you may require several appointments to complete the cleaning. Depending on your disease level and the results of your dental examination, your form of cleaning has a diagnosis name. It could be prophylaxis (regular cleaning), debridement (medium cleaning), and root planing and scaling, otherwise called deep cleaning.

    Based on various criteria, root planing and scaling can be early, moderate, or advanced. You will have to undergo root planing if you generally have bone loss and plenty of hardened deposits around your teeth because of the bacteria being present and not being cleaned off correctly at the gumline for an extended period.

    After cleaning, the dentist or hygienist polishes your teeth with an electric brush and a special gritty paste to eliminate tooth stains and the remaining soft plaque. After polishing, the dental professional will floss the teeth to ensure the regions between your teeth are clean. The dental professional might apply dental sealants, fluoride foam, or fluoride gel if necessary.

    Fluoride prevents cavity formation. Fluoride treatment is given to minors more frequently than grown-ups.

    Sealants refer to thin coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of the rear teeth. They prevent cavity formation for several years by preventing bacteria and food from depositing in tooth grooves. Sealants are primarily used in teens and children. However, grown-ups who have never developed tooth decay in their rear teeth might also use sealants to safeguard those teeth.

    The dentist or hygienist will then give you various tips on caring for your gums and teeth, including the appropriate way to floss and brush.

    Dental X-Rays

    Dental professionals may also take X-rays to obtain a more comprehensive summary of general oral health. The professionals check for the symptoms of tooth decay or gum disease.

    If you must undergo a dental x-ray, the dentist or hygienist will cover your upper body with an apron to shield you from radiation. They will then need you to bite on plastic and position the X-ray machine close to your cheek. Taking X-ray images will take only a few seconds. You will repeat this procedure multiple times to obtain X-ray images of all your teeth.

    X-rays need not be performed at all dental exams and check-ups. However, they reveal a part of the mouth that is not viewable under usual circumstances. Your dental professional might recommend an X-ray if they are concerned about your oral health, but they can also suggest it as a standard precaution.

    Dental Exam and Checkup

    If you underwent an X-ray, your dental professional would thoroughly examine the images for issues. They will check for many things, detecting cavities among the primary ones. Next, they will check your gums and bite (how the bottom and top teeth fit together). If you have a problem with your bite, the dentist may refer you to an orthodontist.

    After the first examination, the dentist will evaluate your tartar and plaque level, measure your gums with a probe, and record the pocket space depth of the gums adjacent to every tooth. The gum pockets of healthy gums are shallow, and probing will cause no bleeding. Bleeding indicates active dental disease, and deep pockets with many bleeding areas are known as gingivitis, a disease you must treat as soon as possible.

    Oral Cancer Screenings

    Your dental professional can also conduct oral cancer screening. This entails looking for and feeling unusual lumps in the mouth, tongue, and lips. The dentist might also examine your head, neck, throat, and face.

    Not everyone undergoes oral cancer screening, although a dental examination is an opportunity for those facing a higher risk to undergo screening. Patients facing a higher risk include those who eat unhealthily, smoke, or drink alcohol.

    A Discussion of Next Steps

    Once the dental professional has completed the dental exam, they will discuss the results with you, including any alterations you must make to your oral care routine to improve your oral hygiene and health. If the dentist or hygienist found something concerning, like gum disease or cavities, they could discuss additional scheduling and further treatment.

    Preparing for a Check-Up and Exam

    There is nothing specific you must do before going to the dental office. However, doing the following will help you be prepared for your visit:

    Practicing Ideal Dental Care

    The ideal way to prepare for your dental check-up and exam is to practice proper dental care at home. Begin by brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing them once daily at the minimum. To achieve the best outcome, ensure you brush your teeth before your dental exam appointment.

    Even though dental check-ups and exams entail thorough teeth cleaning, prior cleaning enables the dentist to give extra attention to hard-to-clean places. To ensure you achieve a healthy, long-lasting smile, do not be embarrassed about your oral cleaning routine; your dentist will work closely with you to enhance it and ensure optimal dental health. Ensure you set up a follow-up appointment after your dental exam.

    Take Antibiotics

    You might have to take medication before your dental exam for infection prevention if you have particular health conditions. Ask your dental professional or doctor whether you must take antibiotics, particularly if you suffer from an immune system disorder or a heart problem.

    Talk to Your Dentist If You Feel Anxious

    Some individuals feel anxious about stepping foot in the dental office. If you are one of them, inform your dental professional before you visit; they can discuss ways of helping you feel comfortable and relaxed about receiving dental care.

    Check Your Dental Insurance Policy

    You may also want to check your dental insurance to confirm what it will cover and the services the dentist will need you to pay for from your pocket when you go for the appointment.

    List All of Your Dental Symptoms

    If you are experiencing any dental problems, note them before leaving for the appointment. Once you have noted down the symptoms, include the potential cause of those symptoms. Listing these signs will assist you in remembering any problem you want to discuss with your dentist.

    Ensure You Have All the Information At Your Fingertips

    If this is your first time going to the dentist for an exam, the dentist will need you to provide information about yourself and your medical history. This includes your past dental procedures and treatments, the current medications you are on, your medical history (both dental and general), and any allergies you have, among other details. This information assists the dentist in knowing the procedure you will likely need to undergo.

    Arrive for the Appointment On Time

    Arriving late for your appointment can make everything stressful and confusing. You might also miss the appointment if you arrive late. Therefore, ensure you go early enough to complete any forms without rushing. Additionally, arriving earlier will help you have ample time to ask your dental professional all your questions and concerns because you will have time to calm yourself and ensure you do not forget any questions.

    Bring the Necessary Items

    Bring your identification, dental insurance card, and any documents and forms your dentist requests. Having these things streamlines the check-in process and ensures a smooth visit.

    Why You Need Regular Dental Examinations and Check-Ups

    The following are some of the reasons why routine dental check-ups and exams are important:

    To Detect Problems Underneath the Mouth Surface

    At a routine exam and check-up, your dental professional will order X-rays or radiographs to check the hard tissues of your mouth (teeth and bone structures) for bone decay, damaged teeth, swelling, jawbone damage, cysts, and tumors. Diagnosing these issues early enough will assist in treating them quickly and ensuring your oral health.

    Helps in the Early Detection of Oral Cancer

    Besides examining your gums and teeth, your dental professional will inspect for oral cancer signs. They will conduct a cancer examination that utilizes specialized light to detect dead tissues arising from tumors. Routine dental exams and check-ups assist in detecting oral cancer in its early stages. Detecting cancer earlier is the number-one reason for successful treatment.

    To Prevent Tooth Decay, Cavities, Tartar, and Plaque

    Some places in the mouth, like the rear molars, are challenging to floss and brush, causing plaque accumulation. If regular cleaning is not done, the plaque turns into tartar, resulting in oral diseases like gingivitis, tooth decay, and cavities. However, a routine dental check-up and exam can prevent this by eliminating tartar and plaque from your gums and teeth while inspecting for early symptoms of cavities or decay. If your dental professional detects any dental issues, they will begin the treatment immediately to lower the risk of more severe oral problems.

    Helps Prevent Periodontitis

    Untreated tartar and plaque buildup results in gum infection, gum recession, jawbone loss, and the destruction of the supporting tissue around teeth. When left untreated, receding gums damage the jawbone, leading to tooth loss. A routine dental check-up and exam entails checking the gums to detect and treat symptoms or problems before they affect your general oral health.

    To Check Lymph Nodes, Neck, and Head

    Your dental professional will examine your head, lymph nodes, and neck for swelling, thyroid normalcy, lumps, or any other abnormality. They might refer you to an applicable medical expert for more exams and treatment if they detect an abnormality.

    To Prevent Bad Habits

    Bad habits like smoking, grinding teeth, dipping smokeless tobacco, biting nails, chewing ice, eating hard or sticky foods, jaw clenching, or brushing too hard can negatively affect your oral health. At your check-up session, the dentist will inspect for any oral problems resulting from these habits and suggest lifestyle tips. They will also offer preventive treatments, modalities, or productions to help you either stop these inappropriate habits or minimize the disease processes they will bring.

    To Plan for Personalized Treatment

    Dental check-ups and exams enable your dental professional to discuss your dental and oral health, address all your questions or concerns, and have ample time to create a personalized treatment, if necessary. This could include suggestions for orthodontic treatment, dental procedures, fillings, or a referral to a specialist if you have a more complex case. By developing a personalized plan, your dental professional can assist you in achieving optimal dental health and addressing any underlying problems.

    Risks Associated With Dental Exam or Check-Up

    There is minimal risk associated with undergoing a dental examination or check-up. The cleaning might be uncomfortable, but it is usually not painful.

    X-rays are safe for most individuals. The radiation dose in X-rays is usually very low. However, dentists do not recommend X-rays during pregnancy unless it is an emergency. Ensure to inform your dental professional if you are or think you might be pregnant.

    Find an Experienced General Dentist Near Me

    At Lakewood Dentist, we are passionate about attending to patients of all ages. Whether you are searching for a dental professional for yourself or your entire family, we are readily available to serve your needs. If you are experiencing general dental-related problems or simply want a dental exam or check-up, our professional team is available to assist you in finding a solution. We use only the most advanced techniques and materials for every service of ours. Call us at 562-423-1441 or visit our office to schedule a consultation session.

    Get Your Confidence Back and Smile. Don’t Wait!



    Find a Dentists Near Me

    Your smile is one of your defining features, and you should trust your oral and general health to an upstanding dental practice. The experienced team at The Lakewood Dentist is happy to be your family’s primary resource for practical and gentle dental services. With the proper care, you can enjoy a healthy, beautiful, and lasting smile, and we are excited to assist you in reaching your goals! Whether your smile needs restorative care to repair damaged teeth, cosmetic care to enhance your smile’s appearance, or you are looking for a new dentist to care for your family, we have your ultimate solution.

    Our friendly dentists welcome patients throughout Lakewood to discover why many choose us to meet their oral health needs. Whether you want to establish ongoing care, are new to the area, or want to discover how state-of-the-art technology can assist you feel and look your best, our practice has the technology, personalized approach, and skills you deserve. We will ensure you are comfortable during your visit.

    Contact our friendly team today at 562-423-1441 to learn more about our broad range of services and to get started!