An engaging smile showing healthy teeth and gums with a hint of fresh breath is a sign that a person cares for his or her oral hygiene. Regular brushing and gargling are not enough to maintain maximum oral care. The help of a dentist or a dental hygienist is always needed, and the first step to maintaining a good set of teeth and gums is an oral exam.
An oral exam is a complete physical inspection of a person’s state of dental health which includes the teeth, gums, the insides of the mouth, lips, cheeks, tongue, jaw, and neck.
A licensed dentist or a dental hygienist performs the examination.
Before physically assessing an individual’s oral cavity, the dentist must collect important information that may affect the oral examination procedure. The data gathered will also act as a guide for any oral health treatment plans and maintenance.
Personal details include:
– Habitual smoking/drinking
– Vitamins, health supplements, medication intake
– Food, antibiotics, anesthetics or other medicine allergies
– Past and present medical condition and surgeries
a. Tooth inspection
Every tooth is inspected for the presence of the following:
– Cracks and chips that might cause pain
– Enamel inspection for any potential formation of cavities
– The condition of any fillings and restorations
b. Gum inspection
The gums are inspected for any signs of bleeding. They are also checked for the current or potential presence of inflammation of the gums attached to the teeth (gingivitis) or of the bone and tissues of the teeth itself (periodontitis).
c. X-ray examination
If necessary, a tooth X-ray is performed to check any unseen problems that may exist within the tooth. An X-ray procedure will also help detect any hidden abnormalities, cysts, bone loss or tooth decay.
d. Bite Evaluation
A part of oral health is a person’s bite condition which is also called occlusion. The examination checks out for the presence of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, excessive tooth wear, and loose teeth.
e. Cancer screening
The tissues inside the mouth, which include the tongue and cheek are also inspected for any presence of bleeding, ulcers, cysts or outgrowths that may indicate the early onset of cancer. Outside the mouth, the lips are inspected for sores, and the jaw and neck are pressed to check for hard areas or lumps. Early detection of the disease would result in a better chance of cure.
After a thorough inspection and evaluation of the mouth, the teeth are cleaned. Scoop-shaped instruments (Curets) and scaling tools (Scalers) are used to take out food debris and tartar deposits that are stuck between teeth and gums. After descaling and rinsing, the whole set of teeth is polished using a combination of baking soda and water or a gel toothpaste.
After the detailed inspection and cleaning, the patient is advised to:
– Visit the dentist for inspection and cleaning every six months
– Follow instructions on proper flossing and brushing
– Floss and brush the teeth every after meals
– Follow nutrition guides to avoid bad breath and maintain healthy oral health
An oral health kit is also given after an oral exam. The kit is for home use and includes a:
– Dental floss
– Tongue cleaner
– Rubber tip stimulator
To maintain that bright and wholesome smile, a visit to a dentist is a must.