No matter how great your oral hygiene is, a visit to the dentist for a basic exam should occur regularly. For many patients, simply going twice a year is sufficient, but for those who either have custom dental work or may be at high risk for gum disease, you should consider going to the dentist more frequently.

Much like a physical performed by your general practitioner, a dental checkup helps to bring to light any potential issues with your teeth and gums. Identifying issues before they arise is key to good prevention and could potentially save you a lot of money from expensive surgeries and missed productivity due to dental emergencies. According to the CDC, over 92 million work or school hours are missed annually due to an unplanned or emergency dental issue.

Plus, you’ll get your teeth cleaned before the examination, so you’ll have a fresh and clean mouth when you leave!

Here’s how a typical dental checkup will look:

Signing in at the front desk

When you come into the office, be sure to check in with our receptionist in the front. You’ll have some paperwork to complete, which should only take about 5 minutes. Be sure to also update your contact information, in case you’ve moved recently or have gotten a new phone number.

Meeting your dental assistant or hygienist

After signing in, you’ll be brought into one of the offices to have a chat with one of the Certified Dental Assistants. Before any work is done, the dental staff will want to review your medical history, and they’ll ask you if there have been any changes to your health since your last visit, such as new medications or injuries. This information is important, as it’ll inform your dentist of any potential issues or prescription complications.

Getting your teeth cleaned

At this point, the dental hygienist or dentist will start cleaning your teeth, scraping away loose plaque and tartar and then rinsing it away with a stream of water. This cleaning also provides the dental staff with an opportunity to see any issues on the surface of your teeth, like hard-to-remove plaque or loose teeth.

Examining your teeth

Using a metal probe and a small mirror, the dentist will now closely inspect your teeth and gum for any potential issues. A dental examination will also measure your gingival pockets, which helps to identify the possibility for gum disease. Your dentist will also look for signs of tooth decay or softening, and oral cancer. The doctor will also check your existing restorations like crowns or fillings.

A digital x-ray may also be performed to check what’s underneath the hood, so to speak. This is essential for the detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.

Discussing your current oral health and future plans

Once the dentist gathers all the information that they need, they will then update you on what they found, and if there are any recommended procedures. No one likes to know that they’ll need more dental work, but keep in mind that good oral health is key to good overall health, and preventative measures now will keep at bay major issues in the future.

Your dentist will work with you on the most cost-effective ways to keep up good oral health, including what you can do at home. If another dental office visit is required for a procedure, like a root canal or a filling, and you’re unsure of the costs associated with it, then the staff can work with you to determine the best financing options.

At the dental office of Dr. Stephen Coates in Long Beach, California, we are committed to providing you and your family the best care fit for your unique needs. To schedule your next dental exam,
click here or call us at 562-434-6414.