Dental exams are a key element when it comes to preventing dental disease. Early diagnosis and evaluation of symptoms can allow your dentist to treat active tooth decay while it is still small. Delaying exams or treatment simply allows tooth decay to expand and become more invasive. A simple filling can easily turn into an abscessed tooth, requiring root canal therapy and a crown.
There are different types of dental exams that your dentist will provide. You will note these listed on your receipt or insurance breakdown. Here is a summary of common exams that your dentist provides, depending on what your specific complaints are:
This exam is performed on every new patient and usually every 3-5 years on existing patients. A comprehensive examination includes oral disease screening, a head and neck examination, periodontal screening, oral cancer screening and health history review. Comprehensive exams usually call for a full mouth series of dental x-rays.
The most common type of exam is the periodic exam. This exam is performed during your routine appointments for dental cleanings and checkups and should be done at least once a year. Periodic exams allow the dentist to check any areas that are being monitored, check for new symptoms of disease, and update health history information. Once a year bitewing x-rays allow the dentist to check for early signs of decay between the back teeth.
A limited exam is problem-specific. Most limited exams are for a follow-up related to a specific treatment that you receive. Or, a limited exam may be performed if you are coming into the office for a dental related emergency. An x-ray will be taken of the tooth that is suffering from the symptoms. No other areas are addressed.
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