At your first visit to the Oliveira Dental Clinic, you will receive a very comprehensive exam.
This exam consists, in part, of the hygienist and Dr. Oliveira looking inside your mouth. They look in your mouth for things that can affect your oral—and your overall—health. Many of these things are invisible to the untrained eye. Your dentist will, however, be able to detect them. Here are some of things your dentist looks for during a dental exam:
- Damaged, missing or decayed teeth.
- Early signs of cavities.
- Condition of your gums, such as periodontal pockets, inflammation or other signs of gum disease (which can lead to tooth and bone loss).
- How previous dental work such as root canals, fillings and crowns are holding up.
- Early signs of mouth or throat cancer, such as white lesions or blocked salivary glands.
- Other suspicious growths or cysts.
- Position of your teeth (e.g., spacing, bite).
- Signs that you clench or grind your teeth (a treatable problem that can cause headaches or a sore jaw and can, if serious, lead to hearing loss and tooth loss).
- Signs of bleeding or inflammation on your tongue and on the roof or floor of your mouth.
- Overall health and function of your temporomandibular joint (which joins the jaw to the skull), for signs of disorders that can cause pain or tenderness.
- General condition of the bones in your face, jaw and around your mouth.
The dental exam can catch problems early—before you see or feel them—when they are much easier and less expensive to treat.
In addition to the visual inspection of your mouth, the exam includes:
- A complete medical history so the dentist knows about any health conditions that may affect the success of dental treatments or procedures, or that may be associated with oral health problems.
- An examination of your neck area, with the dentist feeling the glands and lymph nodes for possible signs of inflammation that could indicate general health problems.
- Intraoral imaging and dental x-rays. These can show such problems as cavities under existing fillings, fractures, impacted wisdom teeth, decay under your gum line and bone loss caused by gum disease.
Dr. Oliveira will explain what’s happening and give you a summary of the findings. Be sure to ask any questions. As the patient, you are a full partner in your oral health care.