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5 Things Your General Dentist Does During Your Appointment

If you haven’t been to the dentist in awhile and are now scheduled for your dental appointment, you may be wondering what to expect. Although there are many horrible myths surrounding dentistry, the simple fact of the matter is that dental appointments are not something to be feared. 


In reality, your general dentist is devoted to preserving your oral health and preventing dental issues from occurring. An important part of this prevention are regular dental cleanings and consultations, once every six months. During your dental appointment, here are five things your general dentist will do: 


#1: Dental X-Rays

Often times, this is one of the first things you will do when arriving to your dentist’s office. Dental x-rays allow your dentist to evaluate the underlying bone structure and can even help them identify cavities in places that are not easily visible. There are two types of dental x-rays that may be taken: extraoral and intraoral. Extraoral x-rays focus on the entire outside of the face and are used to evaluate the jaw bone and joint. Intraoral x-rays, on the other hand, are focused on the structures within the mouth, such as the teeth and gums. Dental x-rays are fast, painless, and use minimal radiation. For more information about dental x-rays, see “Dental X-rays”.


#2: Dental Exam 

After your dental x-rays, the next step is usually the dental exam. During your dental exam, your dentist will use a dental mirror, probe, and a light to better see into your mouth. They will use the probe to check for signs of cavities or tooth sensitivity. They will also check your teeth for damage or premature wear. Then, your gums will be evaluated for signs of gum disease by measuring your gum pockets. Excessively deep gum pockets can indicate gum recession caused by gum disease. Your jaw function and bite will also be checked. 


#3: Oral Cancer Screening 

While your dentist is examining your mouth, they will also be performing an oral cancer screening. This screening basically consists of your dentist looking at your tongue, gums, hard and soft palates, lips, and inner cheeks. They are looking to see if there are any irregularities in the color, size, or shape of these structures that could indicate the presence of oral cancer. For more information on oral cancer, visit the Oral Cancer Foundation.


#4: Consultation

At some point during your dental exam, your dentist will ask you about your medical history and current medications. This is because oral and overall health are closely related and learning about one helps to gain insight about the other. This is also the point where they will explain your dental x-rays and their findings from your oral exam. Many people use the dental consultation to learn more about their oral health and ask questions about any concerns they may be having. 


#5: Teeth Cleaning

Usually one of the last parts of your dental appointment is your professional teeth cleaning. During a teeth cleaning procedure, a special dental tool called a scaler is used to scrape plaque and tartar off the surface of your teeth. This helps to remove the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. Once your teeth have been cleaned, a fluoride polish will be applied as an additional preventative measure. 



Overall, dental appointments are not something to be feared. Rather they provide a valuable opportunity to learn about your oral health and how to properly maintain it. Additionally, regular dental appointments allow for consistent preventative treatments that can eliminate or reduce the risk of developing severe dental problems. 



Dr. Claudia Wood

Dr. Claudia Wood completed her dental training at University of Detroit Mercy Dental School. She has worked in Detroit, Gross Point and Warren Michigan for two years. She returned home to Canada in 2006 where she worked with Dr. Trevor Mair in Scarborough from 2006 to 2011.
Her clinical experience includes two years working at Detroit Receiving Hospital, one of the busiest hospitals in the U.S., and volunteering in Haiti in 2006 for 10 days.

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