What is a complete or Comprehensive Dental Examination?
When I see a patient for the first time or after a prolonged absence, I am accepting responsibility for his or her entire dental history. It is my job on that first day to detect any number of diseases or disorders of the teeth and gums that may have resulted from a lifetime of use or possibly abuse. Its is crucial for every patient’s long-term treatment and overall health, that a complete dental examination is performed at the beginning of our dental relationship.
I like to schedule about an hour for a complete exam, allowing me to completely evaluate all aspects of a person’s teeth and soft tissues. The goal of this procedure is to uncover any potential trouble spots at an early stage. When we catch problems early on, they are easier to treat, less painful, and less expensive!
Here are some of the things that we are evaluating during a complete exam:
1 We check the muscles of the head and neck… Evidence of soreness or tenderness, usually indicates that a person is grinding or clenching their teeth.
2 We evaluate the bite and observe how the teeth come together…. Are the biting forces causing destructive pressure on an individual tooth?
3 We look at the soft tissue of the mouth including the tongue and airway…. We are searching for any unusual pathological changes in any of the tissues. Sometimes we need to perform a biopsy to rule out possible problems. We are also looking for patients who may be at risk for sleep apnea, a very common problem which can cause people to die prematurely.
4 We probe periodontal tissues … one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults is periodontal disease. In its early stages, the disease is usually reversible. During this part of the exam we measure the pocket depth at six locations around each tooth. We also check the gums for evidence of tissue or bone recession.
5 We explore each tooth for cavities and evaluate the strength of any existing fillings. Over the years, fillings breakdown and may need replacement.
6 We take any x-rays that we deem necessary along with photographs. The photographs allow me to have a record of what the teeth look like at that particular moment in time. Later I can refer back to these photos to see if things are improving, deteriorating or stable.
In my practice, our patients are required to have this type of examination so we have a baseline. In addition, the comprehensive exam should be done every 5- 10 yrs depending on the individual situation. By being thorough in my dental investigation, I give my patients a better chance of staying out of dental trouble and saving money on complicated restorations later in life. —Arnold Chernoff
What supportive strategy do you choose?
The first step to providing the dental care that you want is getting to know you. Not everyone wants the same things when going to the dentist. Your individual situation affects the level of care, kind of treatment, maintenance schedule, preventative methods, and cosmetic considerations your may receive. Thus, learning about your needs helps us to evaluate and plan your treatment. It can increase our ability to best provide the care you desire.
When new patients come to our office, in addition to medical background, we ask them to choose among these categories of care. This is a beginning point, as situations also change. Everyone fits into one of these:
1. Urgent care:
> you need immediate relief from crisis—pain, swelling, or bleeding
> you wish to deal with major problems that develop, versus prevention
> your desire is to control pain and/or save the tooth
2. Remedial care:
> you need correction for obvious problems—cracked teeth, cavities, sensitivity,
discomfort, or present concerns
> you wish to repair the teeth, not to be proactive
> your desire is to maintain a basic level of health
3. Proactive care:
> you need necessary immediate treatments and help for conditions that may create
problems in the near future
> you wish to maintain the health of each tooth and prevent concerns from developing
> your treatment may be prioritized to manage costs, yet it takes care of issues soon
enough to not become bigger problems
4. Complete care:
> your concern is for your current and long term oral conditions
> you choose between all options to remain healthy and minimize costs
> your treatment follows a step-by-step master plan, focused on restoration, prevention, and regular care for health and improved appearance
5. Optimal care:
> you focus on long term dental health care and disease prevention
> your desire is to enhance your appearance with an improved beautiful smile
> you utilize treatment options to correct all dental concerns for lifelong function
Dr. Arnold K. Chernoff DDS