Maintaining good oral health is essential for a beautiful smile and overall well-being. One of the cornerstone practices in dental care is the routine dental exam, which you should ideally schedule every 6 months.
What exactly happens during a typical 6-month dental exam, and why is it so important? Dental exams for adults and children are more than just a glance into your mouth—they play a crucial role in the early detection of problems, preventing dental issues, and maintaining oral health.
Reviewing Your Medical History
Your 6-month dental exam starts with a warm welcome from your dentist or dental hygienist. They’ll begin by reviewing your medical and dental history, which is critical in understanding your overall health and any potential factors that could affect your oral health.
You can help your dentist by providing accurate and up-to-date information about your dental and health history. Information you share may include:
- Medications you’re taking
- Recent changes in your health
- A new pregnancy
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Change in tooth colour or loose teeth
- If you smoke
A Comprehensive Examination
The heart of your dental exam is the comprehensive examination of your mouth, teeth, gums, and oral tissue. Here’s what your dentist will typically look for:
- Oral hygiene assessment: Your dentist or hygienist will evaluate your oral hygiene practices, including brushing and flossing techniques. They may offer tips and advice on improving your routine.
- Tooth decay detection: They will check for signs of decay, damage, or missing teeth. Checking for cavities and tooth decay may involve using dental instruments and X-rays for a clearer picture of your oral health.
- Gum health: Gum disease is a common oral health issue. Your dentist may assess the condition of your gums, checking for signs of gingivitis or more severe periodontal disease, such as inflammation, bleeding, and gums pulling away from teeth.
- Oral cancer screening: Your dentist can detect early signs of oral cancer, such as growths, cysts, lesions, or other potential signs of throat or mouth cancer.
- Bite & jaw alignment: Your dentist may assess your bite, jaw alignment, and positioning of your teeth, including spacing, to see if you can benefit from orthodontics.
- Existing dental work: If you have existing dental work, such as fillings, crowns, or bridges, your dentist will examine their condition.
- Teeth grinding: If your dentist sees signs of teeth grinding, they may recommend a mouthguard to minimize grinding teeth at night.
Cleaning & Scaling
Your 6-month dental exam usually occurs in conjunction with a cleaning. Regular professional teeth cleaning is part of preventive care and can include:
- Plaque & tartar removal: Dental hygienists will use specialized tools to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth. Tartar, or hardened plaque, is more challenging to remove by brushing and flossing alone and requires professional cleaning at your dental office.
- Polishing: Once your teeth are free of plaque and tartar, they are polished to remove surface stains, leaving them clean and shiny.
- Flossing: Your dental hygienist will floss your teeth for a thorough cleaning between each tooth.
- Fluoride treatment: In some cases, a fluoride treatment is applied to your teeth to help strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Discussion & Education
During your exam and cleaning, or after, your dentist or dental hygienist will discuss their findings with you, providing a summary of your oral health status. They will address any concerns or issues discovered during the examination and cleaning. Your discussion with them is also an excellent time to ask questions about your oral hygiene routine, dietary habits, and any specific dental concerns you may have.
If your dentist identified any dental issues during your 6-month exam, they will recommend appropriate treatments or procedures. Treatments can range from something as simple as changing your brushing technique to needing procedures like fillings, crowns, or orthodontic work, where they will explain their benefits and the associated costs.
Scheduling Your Next Appointment
Regular dental exams are essential for maintaining oral health and catching problems early. Your dental team will work with you to find a convenient time for your next visit. Your dentist may recommend you schedule your next appointment in 6 months (or another time frame) based on your oral health.
Preventive & Ongoing Dental Care in Simcoe County
A 6-month dental exam is much more than a routine checkup. It’s a comprehensive oral health assessment aimed at preventing issues, detecting problems early, and helping you maintain healthy teeth and gums.
A 6-month dental exam can include reviewing your medical history, X-rays, teeth cleaning, oral exams, gum checks, and a treatment plan if further dental care is required. If it’s been longer than 6 months since your last exam, book an appointment with Hill Top Dental Centre to stay on top of your oral health, 1 appointment at a time.