Our dentists will look at much more than just your teeth. They will check other areas inside and outside your mouth for signs of disease or other problems. For example:
Head and neck — Your dentist will check your head and neck, temporomandibular (jaw) joint, salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area. He or she will look at your face, neck and lips to make sure there are no unusual swellings, lip dryness, bleeding or other abnormalities that need to be checked further.
Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that guides your lower jaw when you open your mouth. It’s often called the TMJ. To see if the joint is working properly, your dentist will ask you to open and close your mouth and to move your lower jaw from side to side. You will be asked if you have had any pain or soreness in the joint. Your dentist may touch the joint while you open and close your mouth. This allows the dentist to feel for hitches or catches in movement that may indicate problemsYour dentist also will touch salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area. Swelling or tenderness there may indicate infection or disease.
Soft tissue — The soft tissues of the mouth include the tongue, the inside of the lips and cheeks, and the floor and roof of the mouth. Your dentist will check for spots, cuts, swellings, growths or other abnormal areas that may indicate problems with oral health.
Periodontal — A periodontal examination involves checking the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. First, your dentist will look at the gums for signs of redness or puffiness. He or she will poke them gently to see how easily they bleed. These symptoms may indicate gum disease. If your dentist determines that you have periodontal disease, he or she may refer you to a periodontist. This is a specialist who treats diseases of the gums. You will be able to see a periodontist at your own CFD practice
Occlusion — Your dentist may check how well your teeth fit together by examining your bite. First, you will be asked to bite naturally. If the teeth don’t seem to fit together properly, your dentist may have you bite down on special wax or paper. Your teeth make an impression in the wax that can help show how your teeth meet. The paper makes temporary marks on your teeth that show where your teeth come together.
Clinical examination of teeth — Your dentist will check for decay by looking at every tooth surface (using a mirror to see the back sides of teeth). He or she will also investigate your teeth with a tool called an explorer to detect cavities. Decayed tooth enamel is softer than healthy enamel. If you have fillings, permanent bridges, crowns or other restorations, your dentist will check to make certain that they remain whole and sound and that the teeth around them have no sign of decay.
X-rays – These will be taken to help your dentist look for decay (cavities) or other oral health problems that cannot be seen during the clinical exam. X-rays also provide the best way for the dentist to see a need for root canal treatment, or bone loss that may indicate advanced gum disease. After the x-ray you will be able to look at the result on you chair side screen. It is a great tool in helping you understand where problems may occur.