EXAM AND X-RAYS
Getting a dental exam and x-rays at our Houston dental office will help you keep your teeth in peak condition. By examining your teeth, we can determine if there is any need for procedures or implants, as well as perform a comprehensive teeth cleaning and show you how to properly maintain your oral health. X-rays can find deeper problems that may be hidden within the teeth (cavities) or below the gum line (infections, cysts).
A dental exam is designed to determine your mouth’s overall health and hygiene. The exam evaluates your risk for tooth and root decay, gum and bone disease, and checks for jaw issues. During a typical dental exam, one of our team members will:
- Assess your need for fluoride and tooth restoration or replacement
- Remove stains and deposits from your teeth
- Demonstrate the proper methods for cleaning teeth and dentures at home
You will also be asked about medical history and medications so that we can determine if they will have any interactions with your overall oral health. For example, diabetic patients are at higher risk for gum disease due to medications that leave the mouth dry and promote tooth decay. Another example is arthritis, where we can also show you how a toothbrush inserted into a rubber ball or powered toothbrushes can facilitate in making brushing your teeth more comfortable if you suffer from arthritis.
In addition to a standard dental exam, we may also check for signs of oral cancer by feeling around the areas under your jaw, around the sides of your neck, and inside your lips and cheeks for any abnormalities. We’ll also look at the sides of your tongue, and the roof and floor of your mouth.
Dental x-rays are essential for uncovering dental problems that may not be visible to the human eye. There are a few different methods for x-raying your mouth to check the condition of your teeth and gums.
- Bitewing x-ray – Examines the entire upper or lower arrays of teeth. You bite down on a film holder while the images are taken; this film holder prevents x-rays from getting images of anything beyond the row of teeth being photographed. These x-rays are commonly performed during checkups.
- Periapical x-ray – Looks at a particular tooth and the surrounding bone. They help find issues below the gum line, like abscesses or cysts.
- Occlusal x-ray – Shows how your upper and lower teeth fit together. This imaging can find extra teeth or teeth that have not broken the gum line.
- Panoramic x-ray – Gets a wide view of your whole mouth. This won’t find cavities, but can check for cysts, infections, fractures, and impacted teeth.
Sometimes a dental impression is required to get a better look at your teeth. To get this, we use a horseshoe shaped tray filled with a gel-like material. The tray is then placed over the teeth and the gelatin will fill every nook and cranny around your teeth. Once dried, the mold is removed and filled with a resin to make a cast of your mouth. These casts let us (and you) see where gaps may have formed, and from this we can determine a need for dental implants, such as dentures.