Along with daily brushing and flossing, part of a healthy oral care routine is keeping up with regular visits to the dentist. It’s recommended that patients visit the dentist twice a year (every six months) for a routine cleaning and dental exam.
Oral diseases (such as oral cancer and gum disease) are unlike diseases that occur in other parts of the body because they often do not present any symptoms until they have reached a more advanced stage that is more difficult to treat. Only your dentist can catch these problems in their early stages and provide the proper treatment to restore your oral health.
A dental exam begins with a physical exam of the mouth. Using a small mirror, the teeth and gums will be carefully inspected for signs of gingivitis (inflamed gums) and other potential issues, such as cavities. This part of the appointment is usually performed by a dental hygienist. If any problems are detected, they will usually consult with a dentist to determine the next steps.
A dental appointment can also include an oral cancer screening, which involves a physical examination of the mouth and neck to check for signs of cancer.
X-rays are usually taken only once a year. They give dentists a closer look at what is going on beneath the gum line. They can also provide a better look between the teeth if any cavities are suspected of developing there.