A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your
initial dental visit. At regular check-up exams, your dentist and
hygienist will include the following:
Examination of diagnostic
x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts,
and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral cancer screening: Check
the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of
Gum disease evaluation: Check
the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination of tooth
decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special
Examination of existing
restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Professional Dental Cleaning:
Professional dental cleanings (dental prophylaxis) are usually
performed by Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will
include a dental exam and the following:
Removal of calculus
(tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth
for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface.
Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with
special dental instruments.
Removal of plaque: Plaque
is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a
growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The
bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums. This
inflammation is the start of periodontal disease!
Teeth polishing: Remove
stain and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools
that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.
Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately
detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment
plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Safety dental x-rays:
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount
of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount
a person receives in a single day from natural sources.
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered
safe. Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure
to radiation when taking dental x-rays. These precautions include using
lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts
down the exposure time of each x-ray.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual
dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend
necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental
exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new
patients. A full series is usually good for three to five years. Bite-wing
x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall
(check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental
A new system of taking X-rays, called digital radiography, reduces radiation by as much as 80 percent. Alvarez Dental offers that procedure for our patients.