A routine visit to a dentist involves several important points. The patient has to fill out a medical questionnaire, where he or she would talk about health concerns, existing medications being taken or any changes concerning his health. Any conditions, such as diabetes, pregnancy, surgery, or cancer treatment will also be discussed with the dentist.
Step 1: The scaling
The next step for the patient is to receive a thorough cleaning. Scaling can often help to detect cavities and this is where the hygienist has to do a good, thorough job. A dentist will receive help from the hygienist during the exam phase, stating his observations during the manual act of scaling. The dentist will then proceed by touching every tooth using an instrument called explorer. This sharp tool helps detect if the spot noticed on the tooth is just a stain or decay. Another instrument that helps detect decay is Diagnodent, a laser that is directed to the surface of each tooth. The laser beam reflects back and the instrument is able to reveal the presence of any decay.
Step 2: Soft tissue exam
A second step dentist will take is a soft tissue exam i.e, cheeks, tongue, upper throat, gum tissue and palate are examined thoroughly. Smokers will receive special attention, since they have a higher chance to suffer from intra-oral cancer. Also, the neck from the chin to the collar bone is examined so any hard lesions could be detected. Cysts, cancers and signs of infections are the main concern here.
An important part of the soft tissue exam is the gum condition. In addition to a visual exam, the dentist will use a probe instrument that can measure millimeters. A healthy gum pocket will have 3 mm of thickness whereas a diseased gum will have a pocket of up to 10 mm. In these cases, gum surgery is needed. This procedure is usually done with the help of a laser.
Last Step: X-ray exam
The final step of a routine visit to a dentist involves dental X-rays. These are not the same for every patient. The oral status of the patient plays an important role when it comes to taking dental X-rays. Any patient that has a lot of fillings is more vulnerable, therefore requires more X-rays to be taken. Some patients even need to take an X-ray every single year, but this is a decision the dentist has to make. Other patients, those with minimal problems, can very well go without X-rays for two years. It should also be noted that a number of patients will need more than just the “bite wings”. This is the name for an X-ray that shows and detects cavities in the back teeth area. “Periapical” X-rays are needed for any patient who had a root canal therapy in order to monitor the progress of treatment.
Not all patients are responsible when it comes to their oral health. This is why the dentist and his team try their hardest to motivate their patients to have regular exams. It is the best way to detect any dental problems early so they can be treated properly.