x Your Exam at Shadow Creek Ranch Dental Specialists

Your Exam

If you are unfamiliar with what to expect during a typical oral exam, you may find it extremely helpful to get an idea of the step-by-step process before your visit.

The dental examination is a systematic process during which your dentist will investigate many facets of your oral and systemic health in order to identify pathologies or concerns and develop a uniquely customized treatment plan that is catered towards maximizing your oral health while meeting your goals and expectations.

That said, let's explore all the facets related to the oral exam at your dentist's office:

The Medical History Intake

During the medical history intake, your provider collects information about you, including:

  • List of medications you are currently taking.
  • List of vitamins and natural healing remedies you are currently taking.
  • Smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Allergy list.
  • Previous experience with anesthesia.
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia.
  • Family member reactions to anesthesia.
  • Any medical conditions you are currently being treated for.
  • Previous surgeries or hospitalizations.

This information allows the dentist to identify necessary precautions for treatment. It is an integral first step in treatment planning.

The Investigation

The second step of any oral health exam involves a thorough examination of your teeth and supporting structures. While this may seem like a straightforward objective, it is its own process that involves the incorporation of various techniques, technologies and therapies.

  • Your dentist explores every surface of every tooth to uncover new cavities and examine the quality of existing fillings with a crown horn or fishhook, two commonly used dental instruments. Over time, fillings can break down and require replacement. They may also be replaced for improved esthetics. In fact, many people today opt to remove their older silver amalgam fillings and replace them with natural-looking composite fillings.
  • The dentist uses a pigtail tool to check for calculus deposits.
  • If X-rays are necessary, your hygienist takes full-mouth X-rays or bitewings (molars and premolars) to detect abnormalities not visible to the naked eye.
  • Healthy gums adhere tightly to the teeth. If they don't, then periodontal disease may be present or bone loss may be occurring. The dentist typically performs periodontal probing to measure the circumference of each tooth and the strength of the supporting bone structure. A calibrated probe is inserted between the teeth and gums to measure (in millimeters) the level of "gum adherence" to the teeth. The dentist then records a millimeter number for every tooth. The goal is to record a number of one, two or three. A number of four or more indicates periodontal disease and potential bone loss. If the gums do not tighten after the cleaning, you will be scheduled for a scaling or root planing appointment. For more severe cases, you will be referred to a periodontist for additional treatment.
  • Using scalers (scraping tools), curets (scoop-shaped instruments) and sometimes additional high-frequency ultrasonic scalers, the dentist cleans each tooth. Cleaning is performed below the gum and between the teeth as well.
  • Your dentist gently polishes the teeth to ensure that the enamel is not disturbed. Toothpaste or a combination of baking soda and water may be used to complete the polishing.
  • Fluoride treatment is the last step.

The Education

Following the investigative stage of your oral exam, your dentist will spend some time with you talking about his findings, concerns and any problematic issues. You may be advised to consult with a specialist if m

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