A dental checkup is a critical element in maintaining your oral health. Your dentist will evaluate your mouth for signs of gum disease, infection, tooth decay, oral cancer and other dental issues. They will also take x-rays to detect issues that are invisible to the naked eye, such as cavities between teeth, impacted teeth, jaw injury and bone decay.
Even if you’re meticulous about your own oral care routine, a dentist can help spot problems that might slip through the cracks. They can advise on best practices and offer guidance that you can incorporate into your lifestyle over time. Visiting the dentist regularly can also help you avoid major dental issues that can result in more costly procedures, even without insurance (e.g., a cavity that becomes infected and requires a root canal).
In addition to checking your teeth and gums, a dental exam will likely include a review of your medical history. This information can give the dentist an idea of any underlying health conditions that might influence your treatment and may indicate any medications you are taking. Make sure you look for a reliable Northbrook, IL dentist whenever you get your tooth checked.
The exam itself consists of a thorough inspection of each tooth in your mouth, looking for broken fillings, plaque, and other signs of damage. The dentist will also look for red or white patches inside your mouth, feel the soft tissue around the teeth and gums, and examine the jaw joints and lymph nodes in the neck. The dentist will use a small mirror to get an up-close view of your teeth and the surrounding tissues, as well as a probe that allows them to reach in between and around the smaller teeth.
During your visit, the dentist will also likely recommend or request that you get a complete set of x-rays, which allow them to see the entire mouth in detail. The x-rays will reveal hidden areas such as between the teeth, under existing fillings, gum disease, and bone loss. In some cases, the dentist will need to take a panoramic radiograph that shows all of your teeth and the surrounding structures in one image.
The dentist will then make a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan, if necessary. They will also talk to you about a schedule for future visits. Generally, patients with healthy mouths should see the dentist every six months. However, some people need to see the dentist more often due to specific oral health issues or other risk factors. In those instances, the dentist will develop a personalized dental appointment schedule. Those with Medicaid should refer to their state’s Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit guidelines for more information. These programs are designed to ensure that children receive regular checkups and cleanings to prevent serious dental problems down the road. The program is a mandatory component of any state’s Medicaid program for children under the age of 21.