VANCOUVER, April 4 /CNW/ - Gum disease, tooth decay, bone loss, and oral
lesions. Unrecognizable in the early stages of disease, only a dentist
is trained to examine and diagnose these conditions to stop disease from advancing and to prevent
problems from becoming more serious.
"Dentistry is focused on keeping patients healthy through preventive
care," said Dr. Bruce Ward, President of the British Columbia Dental
Association. "Unlike many other diseases or illnesses, dental disease
is not reversible. By the time a patient recognizes an issue exists it
may be more serious and require more extensive treatment than if
identified and diagnosed earlier through a dental exam."
In conjunction with self-care, a regular dental examination is a
critical component in maintaining good dental health, including
individuals with dentures. By understanding what the dentist is looking
for during an exam and speaking to the dentist about the diagnosis
patients can make informed decisions about their dental and overall
What is included in the dental exam is not the same for everyone.
Factors such as age, dental health status, level of general health,
medication use and lifestyle choices may influence what is covered
during the dental exam. The dentist may also perform parts of the
examination in partnership with members of the dental team.
A dental examination starts with a medical history review to identify
any health conditions or medications that could affect dental care or
treatment. The dentist will undertake a visual exam of the mouth to
look for any damaged or decayed teeth, the positioning of the teeth and
the condition of existing dental work. The gums are inspected for any
redness or swelling that may be an early sign of gum disease. This
provides the dentist with important information on the structure of the
mouth and potential bone and/or tooth loss. The dentist may order
radiographs (x-rays) to uncover what's going on below the surface of
the teeth and gums and compare what is seen with what appears on the
The dental exam also looks beyond the teeth and the gums. The dentist
will examine all of the soft tissues of the mouth including the lips,
tongue, cheeks and upper and lower surfaces of the mouth and the area
of the throat at the back of the mouth. The dentist will also examine
the neck area, feeling the glands and lymph nodes. The dentist is
looking for anything unusual that could suggest oral disease (like oral
cancer) or signs of other health conditions. How the jaw functions will
also be examined.
The dental examination is a partnership between the patient and the
dentist. By gathering information from the patient, conducting the exam
and working with the dental team for additional input, the dentist will
make an informed diagnosis and offer treatment options or
recommendations to the patient. Patients are encouraged to take an
active role in this process and ask the dentist questions related to
their care and frequency of exams.
About the British Columbia Dental Association (BCDA):
The BC Dental Association is the recognized voice of dentistry in this
province, dedicated to serving the interests of its members and
promoting oral health. There are over 3,000 practicing dentists in BC.
PATIENT FACT SHEET
The Dental Exam
As with your overall health, prevention and early detection are the
cornerstones of good dental health. Dental disease is irreversible and
symptoms are often not noticeable until problems have advanced. In
conjunction with good oral hygiene practice at home, the dental
examination performed by your dentist is a critical component to
maintain dental health.
By understanding what the dentist is looking for during an exam and
speaking with your dentist about your diagnosis, you can make informed
decisions about your dental health needs to address any problems before
they become more serious.
During the examination your dentist will inspect a number of important
areas and functions of your mouth to identify and diagnose any early
signs of dental disease. Each patient is unique, so the specific
components of the dental examination will vary based on your current
dental and general health, lifestyle factors and frequency of
professional dental cleanings. Your dentist may also perform parts of
the examination in partnership with other members of the dental team
and will gather all the necessary information to make an informed
A dentist may look at some or all of the following during an exam:
Medical history, including health conditions or medications that could
impact dental care or treatment.
X-rays are a valuable diagnostic tool that may be taken to see what's
going on below the surface of the teeth and gums as well as the bones
of the jaw.
Oral hygiene to confirm plaque and tartar levels that affect the health
of the gums and teeth.
The gums will be examined for signs of disease such as redness, swelling
Soft tissue health, including the lips, tongue, cheeks and upper and
lower surfaces of the mouth for signs of oral cancer or sensitivity.
The condition of teeth to identify any damaged or decayed teeth along
with the condition of any dental prosthesis (e.g. dentures).
Existing dental work, such as fillings, root canals and crowns will also
be examined for any deterioration.
Jaw function: how the teeth are fitting together and the bite. The
overall health and function of the temporomandibular joint (joint that
joins the jaw to the skull).
The general condition of the bones in the face, jaw and around the
The normal growth and development of baby and permanent teeth in
Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about your dental exam,
diagnosis or treatment options.
SOURCE British Columbia Dental Association
For further information:
Susan Boyd, Manager Communications
604 736 7202