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Dental Checkup

A dental checkup is a thorough examination of the overall health of your mouth. It can determine if your teeth and gums are healthy or if you need additional treatments to restore your healthy smile. 

During a dental checkup, a dental hygienist will clean your teeth and a dentist will inspect your mouth and throat for issues including cavities, infection, oral cancer and gum disease. These conditions can develop into dangerous problems, and they are easiest to treat when caught early during a routine dental checkup. Additionally, dental checkups allow your dentist to become familiar with your unique oral health, enabling them to provide you with the most effective and individualized care possible. 

At Bright Now! Dental, our team of hygienists and dentists are highly trained and experienced in treating patients of all ages, no matter what your oral health condition is. Even if it’s been awhile since your last checkup, it’s never too late to schedule one today at the Bright Now! location nearest you!

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When should I get a dental checkup?

The American Dental Association recommends bi-annual visits for most people. In general:

  • At a minimum – dental checkups should be done annually, follow-up up with dental cleanings twice a year.
  • Children should have their first checkup between 6-12 months and twice a year after that.
  • Pregnant women should not skip their scheduled appointments. Pregnancy can cause additional dental health issues including gingivitis due to hormonal changes. 
  • Elderly patients are encouraged to maintain their appointments as well. Even dental conditions that develop with age can be more easily managed with routine maintenance and checkups. 
  • Patients with fear or anxiety regarding dental visits are still encouraged to attend these checkups as well. For the caring dentists and staff at Bright Now!, nervous patients are nothing new, and our team has a wealth of resources, techniques, and support ideas to help you cope with any stress so you can get the care you need. If you are experiencing fear or anxiety about visiting the dentist, you can schedule a consultation and start the conversation.

It may seem more convenient to skip these appointments, especially if you aren’t noticing any issues. However, the initial signs of many larger health conditions can only be identified by the trained eye of a dentist. 

If you need to be seen on a more regular basis due to other circumstances, your dentist will discuss that with you. 

What is the purpose of a dental checkup?

Dental exams and checkups are a significant part of your overall preventative health care. Just like you would visit your doctor for routine blood work or vaccines, you should also visit your dentist regularly for checkups and exams. These are valuable opportunities for your dentist to screen you for things like gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer and ensure that there is nothing indicative of a larger health concern. 

During a dental checkup, your dentist will examine you for:

Gum Disease. If you’re experiencing swelling and redness of your gums as well as bleeding during brushing, you may be suffering from gum disease. When detected early, there is a good chance you can prevent progression of gum disease with improvements to your oral hygiene routine, such as a mouthwash. If it is not treated in its early stages, however, gum disease could lead to loosened or missing teeth and could require more aggressive cleanings and, potentially, surgery.

Tooth Decay. When we consume sugary foods, the bacteria in our mouth feeds on it, resulting in a secretion of acid that slowly erodes away tooth enamel. If it’s not regularly cleaned off–and sometimes, even if it is–this can result in a cavity, a small hole in the tooth that requires a filling to protect it from further decay and infection. Tooth decay can be painful and may make eating hot and cold foods difficult. It can affect the appearance of your teeth as well. Your dentist will visually examine each tooth and may take X-rays for a better look at each tooth as well as their roots to identify any potential areas of decay. 

Oral Cancer. While smokers, tobacco chewers and heavy drinkers are most at risk for oral cancer, everyone is vulnerable to it. Regular dental checkups allow for the earliest detection of the potentially dangerous condition, allowing for an increased chance of effective treatment and remission. The earliest symptoms, which could include white spots on the gums and cheeks, can be challenging to detect to an untrained eye, so it is important to see your dentist on a regular basis. When left untreated, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body including the jaw bones and/or the lymph nodes. 

The Mouth to Body Connection. The health of your mouth is strongly connected to the overall health of your body. For instance, a person with gum disease has an increased chance of suffering from a heart attack or a person experiencing pain may have dietary changes as a result. Diet deficiencies can expose you to a whole array of health concerns. Treating oral health issues quickly can ensure that dental issues don’t become overall health issues.

What can I expect during a dental checkup?

Dental checkups are relatively simple and straightforward. 

First, depending on when you last had them done–if you ever have–you may need x-rays to look deeper into the mouth, past the teeth and gums. X-rays offer a more comprehensive look at your overall dental health and are usually taken every year, so you won’t have to have them at every checkup.

To take your x-rays, you will be asked to bite down on a small device that holds the x-ray film. The person taking the x-rays-usually a dental assistant or hygienist–will put a protective apron over your chest to protect you from unnecessary radiation exposure, then take the x-rays, which your dentist will review with you at the end of your checkup.

The majority of the time spent during your checkup will be with a dental hygienist, who will perform a thorough cleaning of your teeth (if you have chosen to have a cleaning at that time). 

Not all dental checkups include a cleaning; however, it is common to have a dental hygienist perform a teeth cleaning prior to the dentist’s examination. It is easier for your dentist to perform a thorough evaluation once any plaque and tartar buildup has been removed.

When your teeth are clean, your dentist will come in for a closer look at each tooth using a light, a mirror, and a few other specialized tools. He or she will look for any abnormalities in the teeth, gums, or jaws, and at your bite, to make sure your teeth line up properly.

While going over their findings, your dentist will likely discuss your medical history, including past surgeries, current medications, or chronic illnesses. It is important to be honest with your dentist–as it is with all of your health care providers–since certain medications can have an adverse effect on any sedatives or anesthetics your dentist may need to use for future procedures or treatments. 

This is a great time for you to discuss with them any concerns you may have regarding your oral health, such as if you are experiencing any pain (tooth or jaw), sensitivity to hot or cold foods or even bad breath. If you are using special gear to protect your teeth while you sleep, be sure to let them know. It is important that they have the full scope of your dental health to make accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. 

Finally, if they did find any issues during their visual exam that will require treatment, such as cavities, gum disease or other issues, they will discuss with you your treatment options and likely schedule an appointment for any follow-on procedures. They will also have some recommendations for you on how you can improve your day to day dental hygiene habits, such as with your brushing and flossing, or if you need a night guard to prevent clenching and grinding. 

How much will a dental checkup cost?

Dental checkups can range anywhere from $50 to $200, so it’s important to check with your Bright Now! Dental location for exact pricing. Most dental insurance plans cover some or all of the cost of dental checkups, since they are considered preventative care. 

Bright Now! Dental also offers an array of options for making your routine checkups more affordable. We accept most major dental plans as well as CareCredit, and we regularly offer specials and discounts for new patients, such as a $59 exam and digital x-rays. Flexible financing and payment plans can help spread out your costs, while our OneSmile Dental Plan gives members the advantage of free dental exams and x-rays for one low annual fee. 

However, it’s important to note that, no matter what you may have to pay out-of-pocket, twice-annual checkups are significantly less expensive than major restorative or reconstructive procedures that may be required if problems like cavities or gum disease progress into tooth decay or tooth loss. Catching costly problems early on in your regular checkups can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. 

Schedule an Appointment for Your Dental Checkup at Bright Now! Dental

Bright Now! Dental is your family’s choice for comprehensive dental care, including routine dental checkups. Call or schedule an appointment at the Bright Now! location nearest you! One appointment, twice a year, helps ensure that your mouth, teeth and gums stay healthy for a lifetime. Even if it’s not time yet for your next appointment, call us to discuss any concerns you may have and we can schedule a checkup at your convenience. Know that when you come to Bright Now! Dental, you’re investing in your overall health and ensuring a confident and healthy smile.  

Still not sure? Visit our What to Expect page to find out how easy we make it to keep your smile healthy!