These exams will be performed at your first visit and each subsequent 6-month visit thereafter. Your entire mouth will be evaluated by a hygienist and dentist and will include X-rays. The health of your gums and teeth, as well as any previous crowns, bridges and fillings will be checked. This is a great time to let us know of any recent or current pain or discomfort you may have experienced, so we can pay special attention to that area. At the conclusion of the exam, your dentist will go over your X-rays with you and explain any findings or concerns. Please ask any questions you might have.
Think of the exam as a first line of defense, a way for the dentist to spot early signs of dental problems, such as gingivitis or cavities. Caught early, these conditions became much less painful and more manageable. The four main categories of oral exams are: comprehensive, regular, limited, and follow up:
Comprehensive Oral Exam
Expect a comprehensive oral exam during your first visit with us or if you’re seeing a new dentist in our office. You’ll also get a comprehensive exam if it’s been a little too long since your last dental visit.
Regular Oral Exam
Considered a “check-up,” these are the typical exams you would get at your 6-month visit. By now, we’ve got a dental history on your mouth, and are looking for any changes to your teeth or gums. You may get an X-ray every other “check-up,” unless the dentist spots something concerning, or you have new symptoms or pain.
Limited Oral Exam
A limited exam is exactly what it sounds like. These are usually emergency appointments where you are experiencing new pain or swelling in one particular area of your mouth. Your dentist will ask questions to try to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. X-rays may be required. Any procedures that can be done to alleviate your pain will be discussed.
Follow–up Oral Exam
After a procedure, you may be asked to schedule a follow-up exam. We want to make sure that you are healing properly and that no new pain or symptoms have developed.
During the comprehensive and regular oral exams, your dentist will be looking for inflammation, periodontal pockets, bleeding, and plaque build-up under and around your gums. Previous X-rays will be compared to current images to look for any changes. Your tongue, mouth and throat will also be investigated for any warning signs of potentially serious conditions, such as cancer. You will also need to remove any dentures or retainers during the exam. Please share any concerns or questions you have any time during the exam.
Oral Exams for Children
Your little one needs to establish a positive relationship with their dentist, and it is best to start as early as possible. Once their first tooth emerges, or no later than their first birthday is the best time to schedule their first appointment. They should be on the same 6-month schedule as an adult, unless your dentist recommends otherwise. Regular exams help keep their oral health in check and keep you aware of the development of their teeth, both baby and adult.
Dental X-rays are the top diagnostic tool available to maintain dental health. They provide essential information not visible to the naked eye. Hidden abnormalities or conditions lying beneath the surface of your teeth and gums can be discovered and addressed early.
There are several X-ray categories, each providing detailed information to your dentist.
- Full Mouth: As part of your comprehensive exam, you will likely need a full mouth or comprehensive X-ray set. The images come from a combination of bitewing and periapical (PA) X-rays and help establish a baseline or your oral health. Your dentist may come back to these images to look for changes from previous exams.
- Bitewing: Using small “winged” pieces, you literally bite down on, these show the upper and lower back teeth simultaneously. The doctor uses these to see how the teeth line up and touch. These X-rays can also help dentists spot gum disease, infection, bone loss, or decay.
- Periapical (PA): These show the whole tooth- from the crown to the end of the root where the tooth is attached to the jaw. (PA) X-rays help dentists detect any changes, such as abscesses, tumors, or cysts, developing below the gum line or in the root and surrounding bone structures.
- Periodic: These X-rays are ordered for checkups and are also known as “recall X-rays”. They are a combination of bitewing and periapical X-rays.
- Limited: These X-rays are not a full set of X-rays, but instead focus on one area of your mouth. They are usually taken before a procedure, after an injury, or during an emergency. They are also a combination of bitewing and PA X-rays.
- Panoramic: Panoramic X-rays are used for diagnostics or specific treatment. These detail the entire mouth: jaw, teeth, nasal area, sinuses and the TMJ joint in one view. Because of the scope, these X-rays are most useful when evaluating issues with wisdom teeth or during orthodontic and implant consultations.
Fortunately, the latest X-ray equipment is fully digital, which means that the levels of radiation are much lower than with traditional X-rays. This new technology, combined with additional protective measures (such as shields and screens) and best practices, mean that the patient’s exposure to radiation is reduced substantially (80-90% lower than standard film X-rays).
How do oral exams look like for pregnant women?
Expectant mothers should not defer their regular checkups. Virtually no dental treatment, including diagnostic X-rays, pose any risk for normal pregnancies. An important note, hormonal changes naturally occurring with pregnancy, can in fact make women more likely to experience dental issues. Your regular exam and check up can help detect and treat these conditions early. Please do let our staff know you are pregnant, however. We will take every step necessary to protect your health and safety and discuss any concerns you have.
What is the cost of oral exams and dental X-rays?
Cost of dental work can vary greatly depending on the services rendered. Dental insurance takes a huge load off this cost offering patients piece of mind and easy to understand payments. Our staff will review your coverage with you, so you’re left without any questions. Your benefits will be maximized, keeping your costs as low as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Exams & X Rays Anderson, Indiana [IN]
Instead of having to take new X-rays, can I use the ones I have from a different dental office?
X-rays images can be transferred from one dentist office to other with your consent, but often not the originals. That means we’re working with copies that have lower resolution and quality. The best option is to let us take our own X-rays at your initial visit. They will be current and will provide the information our dentists need to evaluate your situation.
What if I don’t agree to an X-ray?
Certainly, X-rays are not required, and you are in charge of your own health care decisions. Please share your concerns with your dentist. As stated before, X-rays are the best diagnostic tool we have and if there is anything we can do to ease your mind, we want to try. You deserve the best, most thorough care possible.