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What To Expect During A Routine Dental Exam

Many people avoid the dentist because of dental-related anxiety. However, routine dental cleanings and exams are paramount for your oral health. If you are nervous about an upcoming dental exam, keep reading to learn more about what to expect.

Cleaning and Polishing

The dentist usually starts by cleaning your teeth. This gives them a better view of the teeth and gums without debris. The dentist or dental hygienist uses a dental calculus remover to get rid of plaque and tartar. Not only do plaque and tartar increase the risk of cavities, but they can irritate gums, increasing the risk of gum recession and gum disease.

Your dentist also flosses between teeth, which can cause mild discomfort and bleeding if you don't regularly floss. After all the debris is removed, the dentist or hygienist polishes the teeth to leave them smooth. In some cases, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning, which involves cleaning teeth below the gumline.


The dentist checks all visible sides of your teeth, looking for signs of weakening enamel and/or decay. They also examine the gums for signs of gum recession or gum disease. Depending on your age and/or the health of your gums, your dentist may also recommend pocket measurements.

The dentist or dental hygienist uses a special tool to measure the distance between the gums and teeth. Natural wear and tear and age can cause the gums to slightly pull away. However, large gaps or pockets may indicate gum disease. They also increase the risk of root carries because plaque and bacteria get trapped in the pockets.

Fluoride Treatments

Your dentist may also recommend regular fluoride treatments during dental exams. This is common for children because fluoride helps create strong enamel. However, some adults with weak tooth enamel may benefit from fluoride treatments.

Fluoride treatments usually come in mouth rinse or foam. You use the mouth rinse like normal mouthwash, but you rinse longer to saturate the teeth with fluoride. The foam requires trays that hold the foam and sit on your teeth.


Every now and then, your dentist will need X-rays. This includes bitewings and full-mouth X-rays. Bitewings take a snapshot of teeth in one area, such as the front teeth or the far back teeth. A full-mouth X-ray rotates around your face to take one picture of all your teeth.

These X-rays let the dentist see your tooth roots, but they may also be used to spot signs of cavities and infection. They also show teeth that have not erupted yet, such as impacted teeth or permanent teeth in children.

Regular dental visits are important, and they are usually covered under dental insurance. If you've been avoiding the dentist, it's time to schedule your appointment. If you would like to know more, contact a dentist in your area today.