Comprehensive oral exams can save your life

Your oral health is our top priority. Oral exams include more than just your teeth, but your gums, tongue, lips, throat, and jaw as well. At our family dentistry in Cary, a comprehensive oral exam is an extensive evaluation that gives both you and your dentist important information about your teeth and gums. This evaluation is more thorough than a routine cleaning.

What is included in a comprehensive oral exam?

Not every dental check-up is a comprehensive oral exam. It is important to have documentation of your oral health so we can track changes over time. Comprehensive oral exams include a thorough cleaning, gum evaluation, bite evaluation, fluoride treatment, oral cancer screening, intra-oral camera photos, and digital x-rays.

How does a comprehensive oral exam work?

During your exam, we will examine your teeth and tooth surfaces for signs of decay, cracks, or other problems. Likewise, we perform a gum evaluation checking both your gums and the bone around your teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
With every comprehensive oral exam, we perform an oral cancer screening – you will have your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums examined for any signs of abnormalities. We also take and examine x-rays to find signs of decay, tumors, cysts, and/or bone loss. X-rays help us determine tooth and root positions, giving us an in-depth look at the structure of your mouth and a comprehensive view of your oral health. Although oral cancer screenings can seem unnecessary to some patients, it’s important to remember how these sorts of screenings can save lives. This year, an estimated 53,000 adults (38,140 men and 14,860 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with oral and oropharyngeal cancer. As with any form of cancer, early diagnosis is the key.

How long will a comprehensive oral exam take?

Because this type of exam is more involved than a regular dental cleaning, you can expect the comprehensive exam to take a bit longer than a routine appointment. These appointments typically last around an hour and a half.

Am I a good fit?

A comprehensive oral exam is recommended if there has been an interruption in your routine of dental care or if you’ve had significant changes in your health. Comprehensive oral exams are recommended for all patients every 3-5 years. This allows us to catch minor issues before they develop into major dental problems.
If you are new to our office, we want to welcome you with the best care possible. This means we typically start with a comprehensive oral exam.

Frequently Asked Questions about

Comprehensive Oral Exams


Do dentists check for cancer of the mouth?

Yes, dentists check for cancer of the mouth during routine oral exams. During a routine exam, your dentist will look for signs and symptoms of oral cancer such as lumps, swellings, or discolored patches in or around your mouth. They may also feel the tissues of your mouth to check for any unusual bumps or changes in texture that could be an indication of cancer. Dentists can also use innovative technology to screen for tissue abnormalities and enhance the visualization of pre-cancers, cancer, and other disease processes. By utilizing this technique of natural tissue fluorescence, dentists are better able to examine the oral mucosa and provide accurate diagnoses. If something is found, your dentist will suggest further diagnosis and treatment. It's important to remember that early detection of oral cancer can greatly improve your chances of successful treatment, so it's important to have regular dental check-ups. Your dentist is an essential part of your overall health and should always be included in the healthcare team.

What is included in a comprehensive oral exam?

A comprehensive oral exam entails assessment of gums and bite, screening for oral cancer, taking intra-oral camera photos, 3D digital impressions, obtaining digital radiographs, and Near-Infrared Imaging (NIRI) for detecting cavities without the use of x-rays. The dental practitioner will also discuss the patient's oral hygiene habits, diet, and risk factors for oral diseases. Any necessary treatments may be discussed at this time, such as tooth decay fillings or crowns. The dental professional will suggest the type of cleaning needed. Lastly, the dentist may offer advice on how to care for your teeth, such as brushing and flossing techniques, and recommended products. Overall, a comprehensive oral exam is an important part of maintaining good oral health. It allows the dentist to detect any potential issues early on and recommend necessary treatments that can help keep your teeth and gums healthy long-term.

What can I do about my bad breath?

To help combat bad breath, brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly. It is also important to scrape your tongue daily to remove bacteria that can cause bad breath. Additionally, avoid foods with strong odors such as garlic and onions, cut down on sugary drinks and snacks, and stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. If lifestyle changes don't improve symptoms, it might be helpful to visit a dentist for a professional cleaning or other treatment options. Quitting smoking and drinking alcohol can also help reduce bad breath. Finally, make sure to keep your dentures, retainers, or other dental appliances clean. Following these tips can help you keep your breath fresh and prevent future bad breath.

How often should you really floss?

It is recommended that you floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing is an important part of an overall oral hygiene routine and helps to remove plaque, food particles, and other debris that may be trapped between your teeth. Flossing also helps to massage the gums and reduce inflammation. Make sure to use proper flossing technique for the best results. Start by using a length of floss, about 18 inches long, and wrap each end around your index fingers. Use a gentle sawing motion to move the floss between your teeth. When you reach the gum line, curve the floss into a C-shape against the tooth and carefully scrape along the side of each tooth. Use a fresh section of floss as you move from one tooth to the next. This helps to ensure that you are removing any plaque or other debris on each tooth surface. As the saying goes "you only have to floss the teeth you wish to keep".

Can tooth scaling strengthen a loose tooth?

We typically recommend scaling (or deep cleaning) for patients who have periodontal disease. Scaling includes removing all of the disease-causing bacteria from the gumline. Although scaling can mean a much cleaner, healthier smile, it will not reverse damage caused by periodontal disease.A loose tooth, which is a byproduct of gum recession, is not something that can be fixed with scaling. However, a mixture of gum grafts and bone grafts may be able to help save it. The earlier you detect a loose tooth, the better. If you notice a slightly loose tooth, come into the Stanley Dentistry office immediately.

What is the cause of periodontal disease?

The number one cause of periodontal disease in our patients is poor oral maintenance. Not brushing, flossing, or going to the dentist for regular cleanings can cause gum disease. The best way to avoid periodontal disease is to take your oral health seriously.

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