A dental examination is the process where your dentist will examine your teeth and gums to check how healthy they are and also assess if there are any problem areas within your mouth. If any problems are identified, your dentist will advise the most suitable course of treatment available to you.
What does the examination process involve?
During the dental examination your dentist will:
- Check your jaw and face to see that all appear healthy
- Look at other places in and around the mouth i.e. no just the teeth and gums to ensure that they are in a healthy condition. He will typically check the back of your throat, roof of the mouth and your tongue
- Check your teeth and gums for signs of decay, disease, wear, damage and correct alignment.
- Compare the condition of your teeth and gums to the last visit by examining patient notes and possibly x-rays. This is to assess if any additional treatment is necessary and to check progress of any treatment programme you may be undergoing.
The importance of regular dental examinations:
It is important to undergo regular dental examinations, typically every 6 months to ensure that your teeth, gums and mouth remain healthy. If any problem is identified it can be addressed quickly before it becomes more complex and requiring prolonged treatment.
X-rays show any decay, any possible infections in the roots or bone loss around the tooth. They can help us to see between your teeth or under the edge of your fillings.
In children, X-rays can be used to show where the second teeth are and when they will come through, how the jaw is growing too.
The dentist, as well trained members of the dentist’s staff can take x-rays.
- With modern techniques and equipment, risks received from the amount of radiation received are extremely small
- However, we will only take x-rays if they are needed; after that, x-rays are usually recommended every 6 to 24 months depending on the person, their history of decay, age and the condition of their mouth
- We may still ask you whether you are pregnant or whether you might be, and whether you would rather not have an x-ray
When the x-ray is taken:
- You will need to keep very still for a few seconds to give a clear picture
- We usually compare a new x-ray with one taken some time ago
- According to the law we will keep old x-rays in your file for at least two years from the date of your last course of treatment
Scaling and polishing
Every day, a sticky film of bacteria called plaque builds up on the surface your teeth. The bacteria within the plaque can cause gum disease and promote tooth decay. If not removed, the plaque hardens into calculus (or tartar) which can only be removed by the dentist.
The tartar is removed by ‘scaling’ using ultrasonic and hand scalers. Hand scalers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to reach all areas within your mouth – ultrasonic scalers use water and vibrate very quickly to shake free the tartar and plaque from the surface of the teeth. Following scaling, the teeth are polished to make them smooth and easier to keep clean at home. Scaling and polishing is usually recommended according to the needs of the patient.
When decay has dissolved the tooth substance, i.e. enamel and dentine, the softened structure may break and create a hole. The dentist needs to fill this hole produced by the decay and thus a filling is placed.
There are two types of filling, 'silver' fillings and 'white' fillings. In our time fillings are not only functional, but can be natural looking as well. Many people don’t want silver fillings that show when they laugh or smile because they are more conscious about the way they look.
Patients often attend the dentist at short notice or without appointments. If a patient has lost a filling or in pain, a temporary filling material allows the dentist to rapidly place a restoration, which will protect the tooth from hot drinks, cold air and bacterial invasion.
It is usually best to change fillings only when your dentist decides that an old filling needs replacing. You can ask to have it replaced in a tooth-coloured material.
An extraction is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Extractions are performed for a very damaged tooth, or loose because of severe gum diseases, which may affect the supporting tissues and bone structures of teeth.
Extractions of problematic wisdom teeth are routinely performed. Also, some permanent teeth are extracted in order to make space for orthodontic treatment.
Types of extractions
Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are visible in the mouth, usually under local anaesthetic.
Surgical extractions involve the removal of teeth that cannot be easily accessed, either because they have broken under the gum line line or because they have not erupted fully.
- We will make sure you are properly numb during the procedure!
- Infection does occur on rare occasions. The dentist may opt to prescribe antibiotics pre- operatively and/or post-operatively if he determines you are at risk
- You will receive advice on how to look after the space where the tooth was while it is healing
- You will receive advice on how to use painkillers so you are not in any discomfort when the anaesthetic wears off