Comprehensive Exams – A Multi-Step Approach

Conducting thorough, comprehensive dental exams is my top priority – where patients know they are getting the attention and care they deserve. In my previous blog, I addressed how aesthetics, function, structure and biology come into play for patient exams. However, these exams involve multiple steps with some of the most important being the approach I take with the clinical exam portion itself.

The comprehensive clinical exam itself consists of the following:

1. Photographs – I begin with taking a series of intraoral photographs of my patient. This allows both me and the patient to see every surface of each tooth. Patients have an opportunity to see what their teeth look like from my point of view, which helps with further discussions/explanations on my findings.

2. Full-mouth radiographs – These x-rays are taken to detect cavities, assess periodontal health and check for possible pathology such as abscesses.

3. Periodontal probing and charting – Probing is the primary way to determine the overall health and condition of the gums. If periodontal disease is evident, a treatment plan is developed.

4. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) – When indicated, a three-dimensional image of the upper and lower jaw is taken. The primary use for CBCT in my office is for dental implant planning, as it allows me to detect the exact height and width of bone, as well as the exact location of nerves and blood vessels.

5. TMJ and muscle examination – The goal of this exam is to ensure the temporomandibular joints, muscles and teeth are all in harmony.

6. Mounted teeth models – When indicated, models of the patient’s teeth are made and mounted on a semi-adjustable articulator. This allows me to make an occlusal analysis. In other words, the way the teeth fit together can be assessed more accurately since I can hold a replication of the patient’s teeth in my hands. This step is especially important for patients who want significant cosmetic changes or need treatment on a large number of teeth.

Though this may seem excessive to some, it is extremely important. The steps involved in a comprehensive clinical exam allow me to get to know the patient’s mouth inside and out. This time and attention to detail gives patients the exact results they are looking for with no room for error. If you’re ready to take the next step with your oral health, let’s talk. Whether you need a routine visit or a smile makeover consultation, I am happy to discuss your options. Give me a call at (251) 344-4571 or schedule an appointment on my website today!