So every 6 months you go to the dentist for a check-up where they lay you back have a look in your mouth and speak a load of gibberish to the nurse. What are they looking at and what does that all mean?
The first thing that happens when you visit Prospect Street for a check-up is that the dentist will update your medical history in case any medications or anything have changed since the last time you came in. We will also normally enquire as to any issues or concerns you may have since your last dental examination. We may remind you about the positive ways to improve your diet and cleaning that would be beneficial to your oral health.
Once you are in the chair and lying back the first thing we will do is assess the inside of your mouth to ensure there are no unusual ulcers, signs of infections or any signs of oral cancers. The dentist will then do something called the basic periodontal examination which is a screening for gum disease- they will feel along the gum line around your teeth and give a score for each area. A score of 0 means everything is healthy, scores of 1 mean the cleaning in that area could be improved; a 2 means there are hard deposits which require removal. Any score of 3 or 4 is likely an indication of gum disease and will need to be addressed. If you have a score of 2+ you will need to see the hygienist for professional cleaning of your teeth but if you have a lower score you may still want to see the hygienist to remove any staining present on your teeth.
After this the teeth themselves are examined- each tooth is assigned a number so when you hear the dentist ‘counting’ they are merely indicating which teeth are present in your mouth and they may give additional information that needs recording. These can often sound alarming but for the most part they are purely descriptive, for example: sound means that the tooth is healthy, caries means there is decay, partially erupted means that the tooth is not all the way through. After all of the teeth have been assessed the dentist will tell you of any treatment that may be needed or what is going on in your mouth.
You may also require some additional investigations such as routine x-rays which are taken every 2 years or tests to check teeth are healthy.
If you are ever uncertain or have any questions about what is happening just pop a hand up- it’s your mouth so you are always in charge.