FAQs About Dental Exams: Everything You Need to Know

Despite high rates of tooth decay and gum disease, just over 50 percent of people report visiting the dentist every six months.

Getting bi-annual dental exams with your dentist in Asheville can help spot common problems that could lead to extensive restorative procedures later on. During your appointment, you’ll also receive a professional teeth cleaning with a dental hygienist, which will help remove surface stains and keep your smile bright.

Even though visiting the dentist can feel like a chore for some, taking care of your teeth is an investment that will last a lifetime, and visiting your oral healthcare professional is part of a comprehensive care plan.

Here, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about your dental exam! 

Why Is Getting an Exam Every Six Months Standard? 

Six months has long been the standard for receiving an exam with your dentist, but new guidelines by the American Dental Association suggest that visits be scheduled as determined by your dentist based on your unique oral health.

For example, a patient that’s recovering from periodontal disease or is at high risk for tooth decay may benefit from coming in more frequently than every six months, while patients with low risk and healthy smiles may be able to go the full six months without seeing their dentist.

The point is that your smile is unique, and based on your individual oral health and your risk for oral health problems, you and your Asheville dentist can discuss how frequently you should be seen to keep your smile healthy.

While twice a year may sound like a lot to some people, these exams go a long way towards preventing tooth decay and gum disease, both of which can cause significant problems for your smile. By having a professional evaluate your teeth and gums and getting a cleaning, you can prevent many common problems and keep your smile bright and beautiful for life.

What Exactly Will Happen During My Exam? 

During your dental exam, we’ll first discuss any concerns you have about your smile, including whether you’re experiencing pain, bleeding, or sensitivity.

Dr. Saunders will carefully examine your teeth and gums, looking for gum irritation, early signs of tooth decay, plaque and tartar buildup, and any unusual sores in the mouth.

You’ll also receive an oral cancer screening, during which Dr. Saunders will feel your face and neck for any lumps and ask a few questions to see if you’re experiencing any symptoms that could indicate oral cancer is present.

If you need them, you’ll also receive x-rays to identify any tooth decay that may be occurring between your teeth that we can’t see with our eyes alone. X-rays can also help identify a misaligned bite, shifting teeth, and other abnormalities that may be of concern.

Finally, an experienced dental hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth. They’ll begin by using a tool to gently scrape out any tartar that may have built up on your teeth. A polishing substance will be applied to your teeth before your hygienist uses an electric brush to clean and polish the teeth. They’ll finish with a thorough flossing and rinsing for a truly clean smile!

Your hygienist will also review proper brushing and flossing techniques with you to be sure you’re empowered to maintain a bright smile at home until your next appointment! 

Do I Really Need X-Rays?

We recommend x-rays at intervals determined based on your unique oral health. While some patients will need x-rays every year, others may not. The American Dental Association recommends x-ray use based on your risk for cavities and any symptoms you’re experiencing.

If you prefer to not have x-rays, you can simply opt out of this part of your exam, but know that we can’t see or diagnose any tooth decay that may be forming between your teeth without x-ray technology.

You will also need to have x-rays if you’re having any type of procedure done such as dental implants, wisdom tooth removal, or other procedures. We use modern Dental x-ray technology to keep your exposure to radiation as low as possible. If you have any concerns, we’re always here to answer your questions! 

Can I Get Treatment for Cavities and Gum Disease During My Exam?

Generally, you’ll need to schedule a separate appointment to receive treatment outside of your regular exam and cleaning.

In some cases, such as for patients who have gingivitis, the beginning stage of gum disease, we are usually able to conduct a deep cleaning during your appointment to help reverse the problem.

However, for patients with cavities, advancing gum disease, or tooth extraction needs—among other procedures—a separate appointment will need to be made to address these problems with the necessary treatment. 

Will My Teeth Look Brighter After My Cleaning? 

Yes! For the majority of patients, a professional cleaning at the dentist’s office will result in a brighter smile. Your hygienist will remove surface stains by polishing your teeth, which can lead to an overall brighter smile. However, if you’re looking for an even whiter smile, we do offer professional teeth whitening services and can talk more with you about the procedure during your appointment with us.

What Happens If I Don’t Have Dental Insurance?

We do accept dental insurance at our practice, but if you don’t have dental insurance and are paying out of pocket, we can discuss a payment plan for your services prior to your appointment. We’re dedicated to helping our patients receive the care they need whether or not they have insurance, so simply give us a call or fill out our contact form to get in touch and speak with our friendly staff about your options! 

I Don’t Have Any Symptoms—Is It Ok to Skip My Exam? 

Early tooth decay and gum disease usually don’t have any noticeable symptoms. By the time you have sensitivity or pain from a cavity, the decay has likely progressed significantly and may even compromise your tooth.

Some patients may notice signs of gum disease such as bleeding during brushing or bad breath, but others won’t experience any symptoms until the condition had advanced.

Even if you don’t have any symptoms, getting your regular dental exam can identify problems early on before they require advanced treatment. If your Asheville dentist doesn’t spot any problems, then you’ll receive the care you need to continue to remain symptom-free! 

Schedule Your Dental Exam With Us Today! 

Dental exams are a pivotal part of your oral care that can prevent many problems with your smile. Schedule your regular exam and cleaning with us at Saunders DDS today by calling us at (828) 277-6060 or completing our contact form to request an appointment!