Prevention is Power – Dental Examination

Oral health in the early years of life is crucial and is well acknowledged by the health community worldwide. More Importantly, early childhood oral health outcomes are thought to be crucial in shaping oral health trajectories over the course of a person’s life and can have an impact on adult oral health and disease occurrence. Therefore, prevention is needed at each life course stage as we grow and age. The mouth is the gateway to the body and is connected to physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing. Almost all that enters our body is given entry through the mouth, from food, medicines, and smoking to the consumption of alcohol – it all enters through this one entry point. Our mouth delivers a variety of functions that support daily living such as eating, speaking and appearance. The development and progression of several systemic disorders, including cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes mellitus, and low birth weight, may be influenced by oral infections, particularly periodontitis.

How often should I go for a Dental Exam?

Regular dental check-ups or dental examinations carried out at least once a year by a dentist are an essential component for maintaining good oral health.  A dental examination consists of a number of  components all of which are essential to reach a correct diagnosis which will determine what if any treatment is required.

What happens during a dental examination?

The presenting complaint of the patient in his or her own words is a key piece of information that provides the dentist with an important guide towards the diagnosis. This is followed by the history of the presenting complaint, previous dental history and a full medical history all of which can have an important bearing on the diagnosis and treatment plan.

The dentist will then carry out an extra oral examination looking at facial symmetry,  health of facial skin, lips, glands around the face and neck, temporomandibular joint and jaw muscles.  All of these areas can show signs such as redness, swelling, ulceration or tenderness on palpation or Girl in Dentist chairdifficulty with mouth opening indicating the presence of possible underlying illness in the mouth head and neck region.

The intra- oral examination follows next with the dentist using a powerful light source to illuminate the inside of your mouth. The first focus is on the health of your soft tissues, this includes the inside of your cheeks, under your tongue, your hard and soft  palate, your tongue top surface, underneath and at the sides, your tonsillar area. The purpose of the soft tissue examination is to look for early changes in the tissue that could be a sign of the early stages of mouth cancer or other systemic diseases.  The gums are examined in great detail around every tooth inside and outside looking for signs of swelling, redness or bleeding the classical signs of periodontal(gum) disease. Healthy gums are pink in colour. The oral hygiene status is also recorded at this time.

Mirror in mouth to examine teethThis leads to an examination of the hard tissue, the teeth which will be examined with a small mirror and probe to remove any deposits from the teeth. The number and location of teeth are noted with the status of each tooth recorded as sound/healthy, staining , signs of decay, discolouration/white spot, open cavity, tooth fracture, erosion, sealant/filling/ crown present. Teeth missing replacement/denture/ bridge/implant crown present. The status of each filling/ crown/ denture/ bridge/implant crown is recorded

In order to complete the diagnosis the dentist may carry out special tests.

  • Vitality test to see if a tooth is alive,
  • Bitewing Radiographs to check for presence of dental decay.
  • Pantomograph to check for missing teeth, impacted teeth, level of periodontal disease.
  • A risk assessment for dental decay is carried out.
  • A short risk index of periodontal disease is carried out.

If the index for periododontal disease ( gum disease) is 3 or higher a full periodontal examination is carried out that records the level of periodontal disease around every single tooth in the mouth.

Following the completion of the Extra Oral/Intra Oral Examination and special tests a dentist will then prepare a treatment plan with various options for the short and long term to restore oral health to an optimum level.

What is covered on your DeCare Dental Policy?

Dental Insurance Form

Your dental insurance covers regular dental examinations and special tests up to twice a year. The frequency of dental examination is determined by the risk profile of each person. Most people fall into low to medium risk and require examination at least once a year.

 

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