What is a Dental Exam & How Long Does It Take?

Not many people like going to the dentist but they do it because they know it is important to prevent future health problems.

If you have not been to the dentist for a long time and you don’t know what to expect, then the below blog is just what you need.

Read on to discover exactly what happens during a dental exam including how long it takes and what your questions your chosen dental team are likely to ask you.

What is a dental exam?

As the name suggests, a dental exam is an examination of your mouth, teeth and gums. Carried out by a qualified dentist such as bafdentistry, a dental exam should be a part of your overall health and wellness routine and is not something to be worried about.

Unless you have any specific oral health issues that you are concerned about, a routine dental exam is a straightforward procedure that you should undertake once every 6 months.

Children should also be booked in for bi-annual dental exams and this should start from when they first start to get their baby teeth come through. Although some children feel nervous about going to the dentist, it does need to be done and you can find some lovely family dentists that guarantee to put your child at ease.

What happens during a dental exam?

When you arrive at your appointment, your dentist will first ask you about your medical history. This is an informal chat and nothing to worry about. They are likely to ask if you are a smoker and if you have any existing medical conditions which could impact upon your dental health.

During the examination itself, your dentist will check for signs of tooth decay gum disease and any other issues surrounding your mouth, teeth and gums.

Your dentist may also evaluate your risk of developing other oral health problems by examining your face, neck and mouth and may talk to you about certain lifestyle factors that may affect your oral health.

A dental x-ray is commonplace, only takes a matter of minutes and is completely pain-free.

As mentioned above, it is vital that you book regular check-ups with your dentist to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy.

What are the different types of dental exams?

There are different types of dental exams, depending on the oral health issue that you have.

For example, routine dental exams are intended to check your oral health and to identify any issues before they become more problematic.

On the other hand, comprehensive dental exams are more thorough and consist of a series of full mouth x-rays, oral cancer screening, gum disease evaluation and a TMJ exam.

You may also be booked in for a limited dental exam if you have a specific problem relating to your teeth such as sudden tooth loss or a broken tooth.

How long does a dental exam take?

In most cases, a dental exam should only take around 10-15 minutes. Although it can take a little bit longer if any issues arise or your dentist needs to talk through your medical history in greater detail.

If you suffer with anxiety surrounding dental services, then your dental exam may also take a little longer as your dentist will try to put you at ease before carrying out the examination.

Also, if you have not been to the dentist for a long time, your dental exam may take longer as you are more likely to have a build-up of plaque and tartar in your mouth, as well as other issues such as a cavity or gum disease.

If your dental examination includes cleaning or a fluoride treatment, this will prolong the length of the appointment and something like 30-45 minutes in total should be expected.

Does a dental exam include teeth cleaning?

Some dentists will include teeth cleaning in a dental exam, whilst others will schedule another appointment for this.

If your dentist offers the former, after they have screened you for gum disease, tooth decay and spoken about your medical history, they will then clean your teeth for you.

If your dentist does not offer teeth cleaning as part of your routine dental exam, then you will most likely have to book a separate appointment with a dental hygienist.

What is a dental recall exam?

Recall visits make up the vast majority of dental appointments in the United States and are designed to check for any issues with your teeth and gums after treatment. Dental recall exams are important as they allow your dentist to monitor your teeth, mouth and gums and intercept and treat any issues when they first become visible.

Dental recall exams tend to be quick and will only take 15 minutes or so and can help to prevent more serious oral health issues from occurring later down the line.

Do I need to book a dental exam if nothing is wrong?

Yes, you do. Even if you do not have any visible oral health problems and you are not in any pain, it is still important that you book regular dental exams. Preventative healthcare is vital when it comes to good oral health and can help to prevent serious, not to mention, costly oral health problems from arising.

If you are worried about booking a dental exam with your local dentist, then it can be a good idea to give them a call before you schedule an appointment. Make sure that you voice any concerns that you have and ask them to talk you through the procedure in more detail.

It is worth remembering that a routine dental exam is much less invasive than dental treatments such as tooth removal or dental implants, so it is always a good idea to keep your dental check-ups up to date.