Complete Dental Exam
What is a complete dental exam?
A complete dental examination includes much more than the teeth. It also involves the tissue surrounding the teeth, the whole mouth including the palate and tongue, a cancer screening, and most importantly, the bite. We cannot maintain a healthy dentition if the bite is off or is crowded. Everything has to be balanced, just as in our bodies. Any imbalance or tilt in your bite will affect the strength of your teeth and also affect the gums. This can lead to gum recession and gum disease.
When you come to see your hygienist for a complete dental examination, our goal is to understand the dynamics of the muscles in your jaw, how your teeth meet, and verify the health of your gums. Our office philosophy is a preventative approach. We want to avoid problems and help you improve and maintain your dental health. Your specific treatment plan will allow you to not only maintain the teeth in your mouth for a lifetime, but your teeth and smile should look great. We want you to feel proud of your smile.
What exactly does Dr. Slepchik do when he does his exam?
Regular dental exams are a crucial aspect of preventive health care. General dental exams typically include x-rays (using digital equipment) and an oral examination. This examination checks all tooth surfaces for signs of cavities. The gums are observed for indications of gum disease. Oral tissues are observed to evaluate the risk of developing other oral problems. Depending on the findings of the examination, lifestyle habits and oral care may be discussed to identify possible improvements to support dental and general health.
Dr. Slepchik’s dental exams may look like any other dental exam that includes visual observation of each and every tooth. Beyond the in-person evaluation that occurs, each patient’s chart is also reviewed and signed after each of their appointments. As a routine part of his practice, Dr. Slepchik reviews each patient’s exam notes, x-rays, hygienist’s notes, and what was discussed during the current appointment and the previous hygiene appointment, as well. Depending on the patient and the complexity of their treatment plan, this chart review may take several hours, occurring before or after their appointment or after business hours.
“Very welcoming staff. The hygienist deeply cared for my dental health and gave me tips on how it could be improved without having to ask for it. I’ve only been there once, but so far I’d recommend this clinic.” – Mario L.
What to expect during your dental exam
As prevention is the key to a healthy mouth and overall well being in general, your dental hygienist will collect all the important information at your first dental appointment. This includes a complete dental examination as mentioned above, and also encourage you to participate in a hygiene program that specifically addresses your needs.
On your first appointment at Dr. Slepchik’s dental office, we will take all the x-rays necessary, including a panoramic x-ray that allows us to see everything in the mouth. In examining the teeth, we also look at any infections, masses, unidentified masses, and other abnormalities that may affect your general health or future dental treatments.
We will look at all the tissues in and surrounding your mouth, examine every tooth and the dynamic of your dental bite (occlusion). We will also take pictures with our intra-oral camera. We always book enough time at your appointment so that all your questions may be answered. We want you to feel comfortable and relaxed. We encourage your questions. We all take pride in educating our patients in order to help them achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.
Why is the 1st cleaning appointment so long?
Because each dental cleaning is a critical aspect of the care we provide, patients can expect to spend some time with our dental hygienist at their first cleaning. The first visit involves information-gathering regarding oral and general health. The findings of this initial exam and consultation are reviewed and signed by Dr. Slepchik and must include details regarding tooth and gum health in relation to each patient’s age. Gum disease is a prevalent condition that can be addressed more conservatively when detected early. The best way to detect this, as well as other dental risks, is to devote sufficient time to each exam and cleaning.
How often do you recommend returning for my next cleaning?
Generally, patients return every six months for routine dental exams and cleanings. However, when a patient develops a problem such as gum disease, they may be advised to schedule visits more frequently. Dentistry is a field in which personalized care is provided. While general recommendations provide beneficial guidelines, it is impossible to expect that every person will fit well within them. We spend a great deal of time becoming familiar with each patient’s oral health based on the careful and continuous review of their dental history so that we may make adequate recommendations specifically for them.
What does the hygienist mean when she says she discovered I have a “gum problem.” How come no one ever mentioned it before?
To have a gum problem could mean several things. Gum disease occurs on a continuum, beginning with subtle signs. The hygienist’s description of a “gum problem” could be as minor as inflammation around one or more teeth. In this instance, the problem may not have been mentioned previously because it had yet to show signs. It is advantageous for gum disease to be detected in its early stages because this is when the best chance of reversal exists. Mild cases of gingivitis, for example, may be resolved with good daily care and a strict schedule of cleanings every 3 months. This protocol can prevent further deterioration of gum and periodontal tissue, including the bone. When gum disease has progressed to a point at which bone loss is detected, the hygienist may suggest root planing, a procedure in which root irregularities caused by oral bacteria are smoothed and periodontal pockets are cleaned to remove plaque and tartar.
Is a cancer screening Included?
During a dental exam, all oral tissues are observed for inflammation and signs of disease, including oral cancer. Dr. Slepchik may feel the sides of the neck and area under the jaw, as well as the insides of the cheeks and lips for lumps or abnormalities. The sides of the tongue and roof and floor of the mouth are also examined.
Why should I choose to come to your dental office for my cleaning? Aren’t all dental cleanings the same in every office?
Most dental cleanings may follow a similar protocol based on the patient’s dental exam. In our office, patients benefit from a thoroughness that may not be found in every practice. We understand that no two people are exactly alike. This understanding drives us to allot a different amount of time with each patient to ensure their dental needs are successfully addressed. Cleanings in our office are one part of a comprehensive exam, treatment, and review process that enables us to better identify the current state of a patient’s oral health compared to previous visits. This process supports our desire to prevent dental disease rather than having to correct problems after they have progressed.
Will my insurance cover the cost of my examination and cleaning appointment?
Insurance often does extend coverage for general dental exams and cleanings. This coverage is typically limited to two visits per year.