At Downtown Dental, we understand that each patient has specific dental needs and desires. For some patients, there may be a significant gap since the last time they received oral health care, while others, may just need a check-up. A complete oral examination serves as a baseline upon which future dental treatment is planned. We understand that it can be daunting or anxiety-provoking to find out what dental problems you may have. That is why we promise to deliver a comfortable and judgment-free first appointment. Here are a few things that you can expect during an oral examination.
We begin each examination by reviewing a thorough medical and dental history that can be completed electronically before your appointment. By gathering this information, we take personalized consideration into your treatment including, but not limited to, allergies, medications, dental contraindications, physical limitations, and personal preferences.
X-rays and Photographs:
With the use of digital x-rays and 3D CBCT, we can precisely detect the presence of cavities and abnormalities in the head & neck region. The digital x-rays significantly reduce the amount of radiation exposure while maintaining the highest quality imaging needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Our tiny intraoral camera will comfortably capture a series of photos of each tooth so that we can illustrate and describe any dental concerns we may have.
Each patient will be screened for oral abnormalities including oral cancer. The findings will be shared with the patient and appropriate referrals made if needed. Next, we evaluate each tooth individually to determine if decay/cavities are present. Our doctors believe in conservative dentistry. That means that we will only recommend treatment if it is absolutely necessary and any elective treatments will be presented as such. The gums will also be evaluated for their health to determine what type of cleaning is appropriate.
Lastly, once all of the above information is gathered, we will provide you with a list of estimated costs. We want this point to be the beginning of our discussion about your oral health, not the end. With your goals and desires in mind, we will recommend and prioritize treatment first by necessity and then by elective. We want to answer any and all questions you may have about your treatment so that you feel motivated by the end of this appointment.
The American Dental Association recommends teeth cleanings and oral examination at least every 6 months. If it’s been a while since you’ve received a cleaning, give us a call and schedule an appointment today. If you have avoided cleanings because of fear or negative past experiences, let us know so that we can make the experience as comfortable as possible for you. Our Dentists and hygienists know that this can be an uneasy experience for some, that is why we promise a judgment-free and compassionate experience at Downtown Dental.
During your oral examination appointment, we will determine and explain to you what type of teeth cleaning is necessary. For some patients, a regular cleaning may suffice. For other patients diagnosed with Periodontal disease (gum disease), we may recommend a deeper cleaning (scaling and root planing). Using special instruments, we remove plaque and tartar which can cause cavities, gum disease, and other health issues. Some patients even notice whiter teeth after their cleaning.
Gum Disease Cleanings
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is an inflammatory disease of the gums and the surrounding structures. During the oral examination, our Dentists and Hygienists are trained to look for signs of this disease which can present in the forms of bleeding gums, loose teeth and bone loss as seen on x-rays. Periodontal disease is different from gingivitis as different bacteria are involved. As such, we must treat it appropriately.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
Stage 1: Gingivitis -> plaque accumulation, swollen gums, bleeding gums
Stage 2: Periodontitis -> plaque and tartar accumulation, receding gums, deep gum pockets around teeth, early stages of bone loss
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis -> destruction of gums, bone, and ligament tissues leading to the loss of teeth
During your oral examination appointment, we will determine and explain to you what type of teeth cleaning is necessary. While periodontal disease is irreversible, its progression can be prevented. Through a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), our Dentists and Hygienists remove plaque and tartar buildup which has migrated along the root surface of the teeth. This is done with local anesthesia so that the procedure can be painless. This re-surfacing of the roots allows the gums to begin healing and reattaching to the teeth.
Oral Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 53,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or throat cancer this year. Fortunately, our Dentists perform oral cancer screenings during each oral examination to catch this disease in its early stages. We know from research that the chance of survival increases the earlier we’re able to detect and diagnose oral and throat cancer. This is why we highly recommend patients come in for oral examinations regularly.
During your oral examination, we carefully review the x-ray imaging we have taken as well as feel inside of the oral cavity for any signs of suspicious lesions. If you recognize any oral cancer symptoms from our list below, schedule an appointment for an evaluation today.
Oral Cancer Symptoms:
- White or red patches inside the mouth or on the sides of the tongue
- Mouth sores that don’t heal
- Lumps in or around the mouth
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Pain or difficulty speaking
- Feeling like something is stuck in the back of your throat
- Unexplained sore throat
- Unexplained ear pain
- Unexplained bleeding inside the mouth
Grinding or clenching of teeth (bruxism) is an unconscious behavior that can cause many detrimental effects on teeth. If you notice that your jaws are sore, your teeth are wearing down, or you are experiencing headaches, schedule an appointment with our Dentists today. This parafunctional habit can have many causes including misaligned bite, anxiety, or stress. If not addressed, grinding and clenching can cause teeth to crack or chip leading to loss of precious enamel, headaches, and pain in the jaws. For some patients, a nightguard can help alleviate these symptoms by relaxing the jaw muscles during sleep and preventing further grinding habits.
During the oral examination, we will screen for signs of grinding and clenching. As conservative Dentists, we will suggest at-home remedies as well as the use of a nightguard to help prevent this destructive habit. Our state-of-the-art digital scanner will capture the shape of all of your teeth in just a few minutes. From that information, a custom-fabricated night guard will be made. Our night guards are different from other night guards found at stores in that they are specifically made to only fit your teeth. This allows them to be much thinner and less obtrusive than those found elsewhere.