Your dentist will check the health of your teeth and also check for cavities. X-rays might be taken to detect cavities between your teeth. The exam will also include a check for plaque and tartar on your teeth. Plaque is a clear, sticky layer of bacteria. If it is not removed, it can harden and become tartar. You cannot remove tartar with brushing and flossing. If plaque and tartar build up on your teeth, they can cause oral diseases. Occasionally you may hear Dentists say place a watch on a certain tooth, this is for the dentist to monitor and check at your next visit as there may be a defect that can correct itself or need treatment at your next appointment. You may also hear your dentist calling your teeth numbers instead of their names and this is for faster communication.
Your gums will be checked to see how healthy they are. This will be done with a special tool to measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums. With healthy gums, the spaces are shallow. When people have gum disease, the spaces may become deeper.
You may hear the dentists saying numbers when checking your gums they range from 0 – 4. They use a special probe to measure the depths of any potential pocketing in the gums
0= Healthy periodontal tissues.
1= Small plaque deposits seen and possible bleeding on probing, no pocketing.
2= Plaque retentive factors such as overhanging restorations or calculus, no pocketing.
3= Probing depths of 3.5-5.5 mm
4= Probing score of over 5.5 mm and possible mobility in the tooth.
Soft Tissues and oral cancer exam.
During your dental exam, your dentist will examine and feel under your jaw, sides of your neck, insides of your lips and cheeks and also examine the sides of your tongue and roof of your mouth. This is to look for any signs of trouble like swelling, redness or signs of oral cancer.
This allows the dentist to see detailed images of specific sections of your mouth to help diagnose problems not visible during the dental exam. X-rays aren’t typically needed at every dental visit, and your dentist will discuss with you the need for X-rays based on your oral health and risk of disease.
Radiation exposure from dental X-rays is very low, especially from digital X-rays now used, but talk to the dentist if you’re concerned.