There’s a reason many dental insurance policies cover dental exams. It’s the same reason many schools require students to have a dental exam before starting milestone years, such as first grade or freshman year of high school or college.
Dental exams are meant to identify dental problems in their early stages when they can still be corrected and effectively treated. Taking care of minor dental issues early not only prevents potential pain and discomfort later but also avoids saves the cost of more invasive and expensive treatments down the line.
Dental Exam Procedures
Most dental exams begin with an x-ray. This usually is performed as part of every dental exam even if you had x-rays taken last time you saw the dentist. The purpose of the x-ray is to identify changes to your teeth. This is a common way for dentists to see if problems are forming before they get too bad.
Don’t be surprised if the x-rays are taken by a dental assistant rather than the dentist themselves. This allows the dentist to provide direct services to as many patients as possible while still giving you the professional care and treatment you need. Dental assistants typically are proficient at taking x-rays safely and comprehensively. The results are then given to the dentist, who can make a professional assessment based on comparison with previous x-rays.
In some instances, the initial inspection of your teeth may be performed by the dental technician as well. Any potential problems are then reported up to the dentist, who can then come in and look at only those areas of your teeth that are most in need of professional care. If there is any dental work to be done — such as filling cavities, root canals, or even extractions — they generally will be performed by your dentist.
Annual or even twice-annual dental exams help head problems off at the pass. They allow you to enjoy optimal dental health with minimally invasive procedures.