A Patient’s Guide to A Routine Dental Checkup

Having to visit a dentist every 6 months may not be the appointment that everyone is excited about. But have you ever wondered why experts made this recommendation?

A dental exam is crucial for the maintenance of healthy gums and teeth. If oral health problems are left untreated, they can result in serious health complications. Learn the specific reasons why you should have a routine dental check-up and the procedures involved.

Why Should You Do A Routine Dental Checkup?

1. Plaque, Tartar, and Cavities

Even if you are diligently brushing and flossing your teeth, there are still small areas in the mouth that are missed during cleaning. When plaque starts to buildup, they will solidify and turn into tartar, which is more difficult to remove without the help of a dentist.

Cavities also rarely give any warning signs as they form. You will feel pain only once the tooth is already decayed. A repair can only be done using fillings.

2. Gum Disease

Plaque and tartar do not only cause tooth decay. It can also erode gum tissues and cause infection. This condition is known as gingivitis. You will more likely experience pain, swelling, soreness in the mouth, and bleeding. You may also see teeth loosening.

Drastic treatment methods and medications are often needed in these situations, which are much more expensive than a routine dental exam.

3. Bad Habits

Some habits can negatively impact your oral health. Do you like chewing ice and sticky sweets? Do you bite your nails or grind your teeth? How often do you drink coffee? Do you smoke?

When you go for a routine dental exam, your dentist can check for any damage caused by these destructive habits, which you may have missed. Aside from fixing the damage that has already been done, a dental visit will encourage you to change your lifestyle to prevent future problems.

4. Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is an extremely dangerous condition that can manifest in several ways. Without knowing the early signs and symptoms, it will not be diagnosed and may progress to an advanced stage quickly. With regular dental checkups, your dentist will most likely catch oral cancer in time.

5. Problems Under the Surface

Routine dental checkup allows dentists to see what is happening beneath the surfaces of your mouth through the use of an X-ray. Common findings include impacted teeth, damage to the jawbone, bone decays, cysts, and tumors.

6. Head, Neck, and Lymph Node Checks

Aside from checking your teeth, gums, and tongue for signs of oral cancer, your dentist will also check your neck, jaw, and lymph nodes, located just below your jawline for lumps, swelling, or other abnormalities. If there is a sign of a major health issue, your dentist will recommend you to visit a medical specialist immediately.

What Happens During A Routine Dental Checkup?

History Taking

Before anything is performed inside your mouth, a hygienist will ask about your medical history, especially if this is your first appointment with them. If you have been to the clinic before, any changes in your health status should be noted, including the use of new medications and pregnancy. This is very important to avoid possible complications during dental treatments and to make sure you get the best care you need. Let your dentist know if you are experiencing dental anxiety. It is very important to make you feel relaxed and comfortable during your checkup.

While not every dentist operates the same way, a dental checkup would normally involve:

Cleaning and Polishing

Your dentist will use a special instrument known as a hand scaler to scrape and remove dirt from your teeth. Polishing is next, using a brush to get rid of any stains.


After teeth cleaning, your dentist will discuss any dental problems and suggest treatment options. He or she will also give you tips on how to brush and floss your teeth more effectively.


Your teeth, gums, and mouth are examined for signs of a cavity, gum disease, or oral cancer. During the evaluation, your dentist may also use a special probe to measure the “pockets” between your gums and teeth, an explorer to poke at the enamel, and a mouth mirror to get good views of your teeth and mouth at different angles. Based on findings, your dentist may suggest specific treatment or may refer you to a specialist like a periodontist or an orthodontist.


At some of your checkups, your dentist may request an X-ray to check for decay, impacted tooth, and other dental problems that cannot be seen using the naked eye.

You will also probably have a comprehensive examination if this is your first time to visit a dentist, and periodically thereafter. This includes a thorough examination of the head, mouth, and neck.

Start talking to a professional about any problems or changes you have noticed with your teeth, gums, and tongue now. Visit a holistic dental center like Sunrise Dentistry for basic preventative care and routine dental checkups. Call us now at (970) 247-3303 to schedule an appointment.