How Often Should I Schedule a Dental Exam?

Regular dental exams are essential for maintaining optimal oral health and preventing dental disease. However, many people wonder how often they should schedule a dental exam. At Brentwood Dental Art, we recommend that most of our patients in Brentwood, Los Angeles, CA schedule a dental exam every six months. That being said, not every type of dental exam is necessary twice a year.

Benefits of Routine Dental Exams

Investing in routine checkups and dental exams helps you limit your risk of developing major oral health concerns as the years go by. Regular dental exams provide numerous benefits, including:

  1. Preventive care: Periodic dental exams allow our Brentwood dentist to identify potential oral health issues early on and address them before they become more significant problems. Adults and children alike need to see their dentist regularly.
  2. Oral cancer screening: Oral cancer is a severe disease that can be treated more effectively when detected early. At Brentwood Dental Art, our dentist can perform an oral cancer screening during your regular checkup.
  3. Saves money: Regular dental exams can help you save money in the long run by preventing oral health problems or treating them before they become more severe and expensive to treat.
  4. Maintains good oral hygiene: Regular dental exams and cleanings help keep your teeth and gums healthy, reducing the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.

Types of Dental Exams and Screenings

New Patient or Comprehensive Exam

If you are a new patient at Brentwood Dental Art, your first appointment will include a comprehensive exam. Most dentists will also perform a comprehensive exam every 3-5 years on existing patients. This exam is more thorough than a routine checkup and typically takes longer to complete. During a comprehensive exam, we will take a full mouth set of X-rays, measure gum attachment levels, assess all existing restorations, joints, and soft tissues, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs (if applicable.)

Periodic Exam (Your Routine Checkup)

After your comprehensive exam, we recommend scheduling routine checkups every six months. These periodic exam appointments are typically paired with your dental cleaning and x-rays (if necessary). During your checkup, we will check for cavities and gum disease, then screen for any major changes since your last exam. If needed, we’ll provide guidance on how to improve your oral hygiene routine between checkups.

Most dentists perform a periodic exam every six months during your preventative care appointment. However, if you have extremely healthy teeth and gums at each visit, you may only need to perform a periodic exam at every other appointment.

Emergency or Limited Dental Exams

In addition to routine checkups, we also offer emergency or limited dental exams. If you experience a dental emergency, such as a broken tooth or severe pain, we recommend scheduling an emergency exam as soon as possible. During an emergency exam, we will evaluate the issue and provide treatment options to alleviate pain and restore your oral health. Limited exams mean that we are essentially limiting our attention to one specific problem, such as a toothache, chipped tooth, or something similar.

Limited exams may include one small X-ray of the problematic tooth to aid in a proper diagnosis. Depending on the situation and if you’re in pain, same-day treatment may also be available.

What About Oral Cancer Exams?

At Brentwood Dental Art, we also include oral cancer exams and screenings as part of your comprehensive and periodic dental exams. Oral cancer screenings provide the option to intercept irregular or precancerous tissues while as small as possible. Since oral cancer is extremely difficult to find on your own, routine dental exams can be lifesaving. If we identify anything that is suspicious, we can order a biopsy of the area for a firm diagnosis.

A Note About Periodontal Exams

Periodontal screenings are another type of exam or assessment that we incorporate into your dental appointment. The sole purpose is to screen for gum disease or “periodontitis.” Since periodontal disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss and is non-reversible, early diagnosis is key. This brief exam includes a charting of the soft tissue attachment levels around each tooth. More than likely, you’ll hear your hygienist call out a series of numbers (e.g., “3, 2, 3, 4, 3…”).

Schedule Your Checkup Today

Has it been six months or longer since your last dental checkup? Routine dental exams are crucial for maintaining good oral health. Paired with routine preventative cleanings, six-month checkups can help prevent cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues.

Contact Brentwood Dental Art in Brentwood today to reserve your next appointment.