General Dentistry

What Does the Dentist Check at Your Routine Dental Appointment?

Published on 13/03/2024

Routine dental check-ups are essential for maintaining good oral health and preventing potential dental problems. Most people need to visit the dentist every six months to one year, but others can wait longer between appointments.

The dental checkup is an essential step in maintaining your oral health, but have you ever wondered what exactly the dentist checks during these routine visits? Let’s take a closer look at the key aspects of a typical dental check-up.

Checks your teeth and gums

It all starts with a simple examination of your teeth and gums. Your dentist is looking for signs of decay and gum disease. They’ll use a small mirror and a gentle probe to check all surfaces of your teeth and might poke your gums to check they are healthy. They’re also on the lookout for excess plaque and tartar build up.

Gets a closer look with X‑rays

Most dentists will recommend an X‑ray at least once a year to check for underlying issues that might not be visible from the surface. This could include things like deep cavities, bone loss, impacted teeth and alignment issues. If you’re curious about orthodontics, having X‑rays can help to determine if you are a good candidate for treatment.

Follow up on existing dental work

Follow up on existing dental work

If you have had any other dental work completed recently, your dentist will be checking to make sure everything is healing correctly and there are no issues. So, if you’ve had an extraction, filling, crown, bridge or veneer, expect follow up questions from your dentist about how this is working for you. If your restoration is nearing the end of its life, your dentist will be looking for signs of failure.

Assess your bite and jaw alignment

Issues with your jaw and bite can cause widespread health problems. Your dentist will examine your jaw and the chewing surface of your teeth to check for any alignment problems. They are looking for issues such as misalignment, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, or teeth grinding (bruxism).

Oral cancer screening

As part of your routine checkup, your dentist also carries out essential oral cancer screening. This involves examining your mouth, tongue, throat and other oral tissues for signs of abnormalities or lesions. For example, if you have an ulcer that won’t heal. Oral cancer treatment is often very successful if the condition is caught early.

Cleaning and polishing

Cleaning and polishing

Another essential part of the routine checkup is to determine if you need to be referred to the dental hygienist for a deep cleaning. Not everyone needs this step, but your dentist will check if you have a buildup of plaque or tartar that could indicate you have an issue. Some people will alternate between visiting the dentist and the oral hygienist every six months to ensure good coverage and optimum oral health.

Your chance to ask questions

At the end of the checkup, you’ll have a chance to ask questions about your oral health. You might also have questions about possible cosmetic or restorative treatments you are considering. You will get personalised advice and support to help you care for your teeth properly at home. You might have questions about how to floss properly or you might be curious about the best oral health products for your needs.

Final thoughts

Regular dental check-ups are essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy and catching any potential issues early on. By understanding what the dentist checks during a routine dental appointment, you can appreciate the importance of these visits and take an active role in maintaining your oral health.

If you’re overdue for a checkup, book a consultation with our team today!