Regular dental exams are an integral part of keeping a healthy mouth. During your exam, the dentist will check perform an oral cancer screening. Oral cancer can happen to anyone and treatment is much easier when it is detected early. Your dentist will check the health of your gums and teeth. When gum and tooth problems are detected early, they can be treated with more affordable and less invasive options. Your dentist will look for opportunities to improve your home care or nutrition. An important factor in determining whether you develop gum or tooth problems, is how you take care of them. Your dentist is a valuable resource for learning how to best maintain a healthy mouth.
Your dentist will recommend an exam interval. Each patient is different, and has different risk factors for developing dental problems. Patients who are prone to gum disease or tooth decay should have exams more frequently, such as every four months. On the other hand, patients who have never had a cavity may be okay to go one year between dental exams.
X-rays, or dental radiographs, can help detect and diagnose dental issues early. Two types of x-rays might be recommended during your routine exam. The panorex or full face x-ray is generally recommended every five years. A panorex allows your dentist to visualize the jaw bones, sinuses, roots of the teeth and other head and neck anatomy. Your dentist is trained to detect abnormalities and will let you know if he sees something that requires attention. Bitewing x-rays are generally recommended every 1-2 years. Bitewings can help detect cavities, especially when they are small and in between teeth. Finding cavities when they are small can prevent the need for more expensive dental treatments such as crowns or root canals. Bitewing x-rays also help your dentist visualize the supporting bone around your teeth. Detecting the loss of bone around teeth early is important to maintaining healthy gums.