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Oral Exam

What is an oral exam?

Oral exams are very thorough examinations of your entire oral health, not just your teeth. Recommended every 3-5 years, oral exams help your dentist collect more information than a dental cleaning or checkup and establish a baseline to compare the progress or decline of your oral wellness.

Oral exams are just one of Bright Now! Dental’s comprehensive dental services, and another way we help you maintain good oral health for a lifetime.

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Why do I need oral exams?

Oral exams are an opportunity for your dentist to screen for more than just decay and infection; they are a comprehensive look at your entire oral health. 

Oral exams are an important part of regular dental care, and it’s recommended that you get one, along with a checkup and cleaning, every 6 months to remove any built up plaque and tartar and to catch any dental abnormalities. Early intervention for dental problems is critical in preventing more severe issues down the road, and oral exams are an opportunity for your dentist to look for small changes in your gums and teeth. 

What can I expect during a comprehensive oral exam?

An oral exam will begin much like any other dental or medical appointment, with paperwork about your medical and dental history and some dental images or photos. Then the dentist will check each part of the mouth and throat meticulously and make any necessary recommendations or referrals. 

In general, here’s what an oral exam consists of:

  • Gather or update medical and dental history. During this portion of the exam, you may be asked to fill out paperwork or an online questionnaire about your overall medical history. It’s important to know if you or a family member has a history of gum disease or oral cancers. It’s also important for your dentist to know about any health complications or surgeries you may have had within the last few years. 

Having a good understanding of your comprehensive medical history is especially important to your dentist because of recent research suggesting that there is a “mouth-body connection.” For example, a patient with gum disease is 40% more likely to suffer from a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes. If you do have a serious health concern outside of the mouth, this may prompt your dentist to look for particular concerns inside the mouth. 

  • Dental Charting. Your dentist will take a thorough look at each and every tooth. They will take 6 different measurements of the tooth and make note of any previous dental work such as fillings, crowns or root canals. 
  • Reevaluate previous dental treatments. The dentist will assess any previous restorations and determine if any need maintenance or replacement. Because some dental treatments aren’t designed to last forever, this step is critical in preventing decay and infection in older restorative treatments.
  • Dental X-Rays. Dental X-rays are usually taken yearly at dental checkups, but oral exams are great opportunities to update these records as well. X-rays are crucial for your dentist because they allow visual access to the entire tooth, even the parts below the surface. 
  • Check for signs of oral cancer. Your dentist will carefully inspect the entire mouth for mouth sores and small white dots, which can be an indication of oral cancer. When caught early, oral cancer is highly treatable.
  • Check occlusion and signs of bruxism. The functionality of your teeth depends on the way the upper and lower jaw come together and the way the teeth fit together once the mouth is closed. 
  • Occlusion is the word used to describe the bite of the mouth or how the teeth fit together once the jaw is closed. Are the top teeth in front of or behind the bottom teeth? Are they touching? Your dentist will likely make a recommendation to an orthodontist if they suspect the occlusion could benefit from braces or jaw surgery.
    • Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. This habit is usually involuntary and typically occurs at night during sleep. If your dentist sees signs of this, he or she may recommend a mouth guard or make suggestions about how to relax your mouth more during sleep
  • Recommendations and referrals. At the end of the appointment, you and your dentist will discuss any recommendations to enhance your current dental hygiene habits as well as suggest potential treatments based on issues he or she may have detected. If more severe issues are detected, they will likely refer you outside of their practice for specialized treatments.

How much does an oral exam cost? 

Because oral exams are more comprehensive than a checkup, you can expect to pay slightly more. However, Bright Now! Dental offers a variety of ways to help you afford necessary care like oral exams. In addition to accepting a long list of insurances as well as CareCredit, we’re currently offering a new patient special, with $59 exams and digital x-rays. You can also take advantage of our OneSmile Dental Plan, which provides free exams and x-rays as well as discounts on all dental services for one low annual fee. Call 1-844-400-7645 to find out more!

Affordable Oral Exams at Bright Now! Dental

With our affordable services, flexible scheduling and multiple convenient locations, Bright Now! Dental makes it easy for you to get quality care that fits your budget and schedule. In addition to our comprehensive oral exams, we also offer a wide range of dental treatments including regular checkups and cleanings. Call us today or schedule your appointment online! Let the friendly, professional team Bright Now! Dental help make sure you have a healthy smile that will last a lifetime!