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Prophylaxis (a dental cleaning), is only part of the equation when it comes to our overall health. In fact, the mouth is often considered a window to the rest of the body because many other illnesses first represent themselves as changes within the mouth. As a result, a comprehensive oral dental exam is recommended each time you visit a new practice to serve as a benchmark of your overall health. It is also recommended if you have had a substantial change in your health history since your last regular visit, or if you have not been to your regular dentist in more than three years.
During an examination, your dentist will perform a visual examination, as well as a more detailed dental examination using bitewing or 360° panoramic X-rays, and sometimes an intra-oral camera to detect:
• New cavities
• Weaknesses in already installed crowns, fillings and bridgework
• Gum or bone recession
• Teeth deterioration due to abnormal bite, bruxism or TMJ
Your dentist will also perform a visual and digital examination of lymph nodes throughout the face and neck looking for any abnormalities, pain, or flexibility within the nodes that could be markers for disease.
Likewise, a similar examination of your lips, gums, tongue and other internal mouth surfaces will be conducted, again looking for various signs of illness or disease.
Since the comprehensive dental exam is designed to set a baseline of your health and to catch any early signs of serious illness that may be otherwise undetected, your dentist will be on the lookout for the following illnesses which can be detected during a comprehensive oral evaluation:
• Blood pressure
• Cardiovascular problems
• Oral cancer
• Immune abnormalities
• Sinus problems
A comprehensive oral evaluation is a valuable part of your preventative health maintenance plan, and your dentist is a great ally in keeping an eye out for illness you may not know you even possess.