What Can I Expect During a Dental Checkup?
A Healthy Trip to the Dentist
After finally setting up an appointment with a dentist, many people begin to wonder what they can expect at their dental checkup. A lot of people feel anxiety over this because of the rumors and myths about how scary going to the dentist can be. In reality, there is nothing to fear about getting a dental check up!
Upon arrival at the dental clinic, the person getting the examination must check in just like at any other doctor’s office. When they are ready for the patient, the patient will be called back to an exam room. In the exam room, the doctor or hygienist will get the patient’s medical history by asking a series of questions.
After the patient’s medical history has been recorded, the hygienist may check the gums in order to find signs of disease by looking for redness, swelling, or unusual pockets in the gums. This is done with the metal probe that has a mirror on the end. Following this, the patient’s general oral area is checked more carefully.
The dentist will check to see how the top and bottom teeth come together. Along with other potential problems, this helps the doctor determine if the patient grinds his or her teeth. The doctor will examine the mouth for even more evidence of grinding or other dental issues, such as cavities. The doctor will also check on the patient’s temporomandibular joint, the joint that holds the lower part of the jaw to the skull, for problems.
The doctor must also check for signs of oral cancer, which becomes increasingly important the older the patient gets. In this portion of the exam, the doctor will check the neck, lymph nodes, and hard palate. The doctor should also check the more fragile soft tissues of the mouth, like the tongue and lips. Detecting oral cancer early helps reduce the overall damage done, so it is important the doctor checks for it at every checkup. If the doctor finds evidence of a problem, he or she may do other tests to diagnose the patient. This could include something like an X-ray.
Another important part of a dental checkup is the cleaning. During the cleaning, the hygienist uses a scaler to remove tartar and plaque from the gum lines. Sometimes an ultrasonic vibrator is used in place of the scaler to get rid of tartar and plaque. The hygienist will then use water to rinse out the mouth. At the end of the cleaning, the hygienist uses a slightly abrasive polish to smooth the teeth, so it is harder for the tartar and plaque to build up in between cleanings.
During a dental exam, many patients gag when the doctor accidentally touches the soft palate. The gag reflex is made worse by fear. While the doctor is likely used to people gagging, there are a few things the patient can do to prevent a strong reflex. Some people find hypnosis or other methods similar to it helpful in relaxing prior to the appointment. Other people just take breaths through the nose while avoiding swallowing saliva.
Dental checkups are an extremely important part of everyone’s health. Not only can a dental checkup keep a person’s smile looking good, but it also can help find early signs of other more serious diseases that affect more than the mouth. For most people, two dental examinations a year are sufficient, but there are some people who have to visit more often due to other issues. Dental clinic visits are an important part of a healthy life.