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What happens at a dentist checkup?

Even if you think your teeth are perfectly healthy and you don't have any dental issues, it's best to visit your dentist for a checkup to ensure your oral health is as good as it can be. Regular appointments are an important part of preventative care. Detecting problems as early as possible allows swift treatment, which can prevent bigger issues from developing. Early treatment of gum diseases, for example, can prevent surgery to replace a lost tooth.

The examination

During a checkup, the dentist will check the general health of your teeth, gums and mouth. Instruments will be used to allow all parts of your mouth and teeth to be properly inspected. They will look out for signs of cavities, gum disease, tooth decay and other dental problems that may not be obvious at first glance. 

To assist in diagnosis, it may be necessary for a routine dental x-ray to be taken or for other tests to be performed. X-rays can identify mouth problems which are not yet visible, and are particularly helpful for finding decay, jawbone issues and abscesses. It is normal for the dentist to leave the room while an x-ray is taken by a machine.

If you also see a dental hygienist for regular check ups, at these appointments your teeth will be cleaned, known as scaling, to deal with any buildup of plaque (sometimes called tartar). Scaling will involve the use of several tools and typically includes scraping away excess tartar before polishing the teeth to remove any stains.

Some issues are more easily visible  on a x-ray.An x-ray can identify issues not otherwise visible.

Advice and tips

Your dentist will also give advice regarding general care requirements such as frequency and technique for brushing and flossing. This discussion might include questions about your diet or other lifestyle factors than can affect your teeth, as well as tips for minimising their impact. It is important to make the dentist aware of any health issues and of medication you are taking. If the examination has uncovered any problems with your oral health, you'll learn more about the steps necessary to rectify the issues and what they will involve.

Your dentist will let you know when you should return for another checkup. It is likely to be somewhere between a few months and a year, and will depend on your current oral health and dental history.

For more information about what a dental checkup involves, book an appointment online or call the City Dentists team on 04 978 4964.

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