Your dentist will need to take a thorough medical and dental history. This helps the dentist to know about your particular health condition such as allergies, medications that you are taking, if you are sensitive to any medications, other health problems you might be experiencing, and so forth. The dental assistant will need to take radiographs (x-rays) of your teeth so the dentist can detect any problems and evaluate for any decay, bone loss, abscesses, impacted teeth or tooth alignment problems. Your blood pressure may be taken to detect hypertension.

Next will come an examination of your mouth and teeth. The dentist must probe the gums to see if any pockets exist since this can lead to more severe periodontal conditions if not treated early. Oral cancer screening, soft tissue evaluation, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) function also will be done. An inspection of all existing restorations (fillings and/or crowns) will be performed to look for leakage or cracks that may result in decay. The dentist also may evaluate possible cosmetic alternations which he/she may feel will improve your esthetic appearance and smile. Assessment of the occlusion for bite problems and an orthodontic screening are additional also parts of this thorough examination.

X-rays taken may include bitewings that are used to find decay, bone level, calculus (tartar), and periodontal pockets. Other x-rays that may be taken are a full mouth series of 16-18 pictures that would show root apices (top or bottom of the tooth), possible abscesses, calculus, and bone levels not detected in the oral examination. The dentist may want a panoramic x-ray that shows tooth position (especially wisdom teeth), sinus cavities, possible abscesses, and TMJ position.

Your dentist may have an intra-oral camera which will enable him/her to tour your mouth with up to 25 to 30 times magnification, thereby giving you a view on a monitor of decayed teeth, cracked fillings, or other significant problems that need to be discussed.

These problems and any others noted during this comprehensive examination may be discussed in detail then or later at a more formal treatment plan visit, depending on time or the dentist's particular method of dental care presentation to you.

Back to Topics