A comprehensive exam is a thorough evaluation of your oral health. Your mouth is like a machine with many moving parts that need to work together. Unlike your routine dental checkup, the comprehensive exam is more in depth and therefore takes more time to complete. It involves your dentist conducting a full examination of your teeth, muscles, joints, gums and tissues.
By examining the whole system, you and your dentist can be confident in choosing the right treatment solution that will function properly and give you the longest lasting result. Comprehensive exams are generally recommended for all new patients, and might be repeated every three years to five years depending on your oral health situation. Of course, you should still maintain your routine of regular checkups in between these exams. The dentist might gather records such as photographs, more comprehensive X-rays, or impressions to make a model of your teeth for further study. These can be helpful in finding and solving problems.
There are three main components of a comprehensive exam:
- A pre-clinical exam that looks at your oral health and medical history to get to know you and guide the rest of the exam. This info is usually gathered on your intake form prior to your appointment.
- The extraoral exam involves checking your chewing muscles for soreness, and your jaw joint (or TMJ) for clicking, grinding or pain.
- The intraoral exam checks the soft tissue in your mouth, as well as the muscles, throat, cheeks and tongue. The dentist will look for any abnormalities that might require further attention. Your dentist will also check the teeth and surrounding gums, and check to see how your teeth fit and bite together.
Once your exam and records are prepared, we will sit down with you and review their findings in detail and discuss any areas of concern. By completing a comprehensive exam, both you and our team will have the information needed to achieve your oral health goals.