Our comprehensive exam is a process which begins with taking your medical history and your dental history. Oral health and dental treatment can be affected by a variety of factors, including medications you may be taking, allergies you may have, prior dental treatment and special needs you may be presented with. Our goal is to have a complete understanding of the current state of your oral health and to listen to what your goals are for reaching optimum dental health before we recommend a treatment plan.
We understand each person's needs are unique and the best treatment is delivered when there is good communication and common goals are established. Our exam includes the following:
Read more about each part of our comprehensive exam below.
Medical HistoryWe provide a health history questionnaire which gathers information about your current health conditions, medications you may be taking, allergies and drug sensitivities and systemic conditions which can affect your oral health.
Some medical treatments, such as joint replacement, may require premedication prior to cleaning appointments. This can be determined in consultation with your orthopedic surgeon. If you are taking multiple medications, xerostomia (dry mouth) may be a side effect which should be addressed. Other medical conditions may have effects upon the gum tissues. The mouth can be a window into systemic health and our treatment and care of your dental health is integrated with your systemic health.
Dental HistoryOur dental history begins with the question, "What is your initial concern?" This is one of the most important parts of your comprehensive exam because it gives you an opportunity to talk about your past dental treatments and dental experiences. Everything from orthodontic treatment to extractions and TMJ conditions is relevant in guiding your dental treatment. In addition, we like to know if there is anything about dental treatment you find difficult so we can make your treatment as easy as possible.
Digital RadiographsOur office has the latest technology in digital radiographs. Digital radiography results in much lower radiation exposure than conventional x-ray technology. We follow the recommendations of the American Dental Association in radiographic guidelines. We like all adult patients to have current (within 5 years) full mouth x-rays (FMX). If you already have a digital FMX which has been taken at another office, it can be emailed to us before your appointment to determine whether or not you need new radiographs. Bitewing radiographs may be taken every 18 months to two years, depending upon the patient history.
Oral ExamWe begin the oral exam by evaluating your occlusion (the way your teeth come together), the TMJ, the number of missing teeth, the existing restorations you have, and the condition of soft tissues such as gums, tongue, cheeks, palate and throat. We note any decay or other abnormalities of the teeth or existing restorations. We review any areas of sensitivity and functional or esthetic concerns you may have.
Periodontal AssessmentReviewing the radiographs at the same time as the oral exam gives us an opportunity to see if there is any inflammation in the gum tissues, deposits of plaque and/or calculus and if there is any bone loss visible on the x-rays. All of these factors will guide what kind of preventive treatment we will recommend and whether or not treatment additional to routine cleaning will be required.
Caries Risk AssessmentIf you have a history of minimal or no restorative work (fillings), you may be in the low caries risk category. If you have had three or more new areas of decay in the past three years, you would be considered high risk. In this case, we may want to recommend additional preventive treatment to address the underlying cause of the high incidence of decay. We emphasize the preventive modalities of treatment as much as the restorative in our practice.
Functional Risk AssessmentTeeth are tools which we use every day in our speech and eating patterns. Some patients have additional risk factors such as malocclusion (misaligned or crooked teeth), heavy grinding or clenching habits (bruxism) or multiple missing teeth which can place additional stresses on the remaining dentition. We evaluate your susceptibility to functional stress during your exam and modify your treatment recommendations accordingly.
Treatment PlanningWe arrive at a treatment plan only after a thorough examination of all the above factors which may affect your dental health and after listening carefully to your concerns and goals. We believe that a good treatment plan is a partnership among patient, dentist, and office staff—both in our office and in any offices we refer to.