During the oral exam, Dr Mastrovich and our hygienists look over the inside of your mouth to check for red or white patches or mouth sores. Using gloved hands, they will also feel the tissues in your mouth to check for lumps or other abnormalities. In addition to checking inside the mouth, they also palpate the outside of the face and the neck area to check for lumps, bumps, or any abnormalities
Many people have abnormal sores in their mouths, with the great majority being noncancerous and an oral exam can’t determine which sores are cancerous and which are not.
If by chance we do find an unusual sore, further testing may be suggested to determine its cause. The only way to definitively determine whether it is oral cancer is to remove some abnormal cells and test them for cancer in a procedure called a biopsy.
You will be pleased to know that the American Dental Association recommends all adults undergo periodic oral exams when they visit the dentist. The American Cancer Society recommends discussing oral cancer screening, as well, when you visit your dentist. We all have your best interests at heart and strive to keep you as healthy as possible.
In our ongoing “Ask the Dentist” topics, a question that is often brought up is “What are the benefits to regular dental exams and cleanings?”
The main reason to have regular dental exams is to catch potential problems early and keep them small. For instance, removing decay early while it is comparatively small can prevent the growth of the decay reaching the tooth pulp and resulting in the need for endodontic root canal treatment (removal of diseased tissue in the root canal and replacement with a material) and possible crown, depending on the extent of the decay.
Often people ask how frequently they should have their dental exams and cleanings, and have a particular time interval in mind based on what they have heard or experienced growing up. This is best diagnosed by your dentist, as it depends on many factors ranging from how many and what type of existing restorations a patient has (fillings, crowns, bridges) that need to be checked; whether there is gum disease that needs to be treated and managed; and medical conditions and changes that may affect dental health.
What happens during a dental cleaning visit? We measure your gums and check for any recession as well as remove any plaque build-up that has occurred. Remember to keep your regular cleaning appointments to remove the plaque that daily brushing and flossing doesn’t completely remove.
Frank has been coming for over ten years, is very happy with his checkups and the results of regular dental exams and care that helps prevent bigger problems.