Chino, CA Dentist Breaks Down the Dental Exam Process

If you have your teeth cleaned on a regular, six-month basis, you also know that each visit comes with an exam by your dentist. Sometimes this exam may be quick, other times your doc may seem to be checking out one particular spot for what seems like forever. “What the heck is he doing?” you may be asking yourself. If you are tired of simply opening wide and waiting for the “see you next time” comment from your dentist, here is some insight into what is actually going on during your dental exam. 
Checking X-rays
If you happen to have x-rays taken, your dentist will examine these thoroughly. What exactly is being looked for? Cavities, of course! More specifically, dentists know that cavities tend to pop up in predictable places on teeth. One of the most common places is between teeth, which is why x-rays are taken in the first place. When your dentist is peering at the computer screen, he or she is looking very carefully at the consistency of your tooth structure and trying to determine if there are any cavities present, or if there are any places where a cavity is likely in the future. 
Checking for Oral Lesions
You may wonder why your Chino, CA dentist pulls your lips and cheeks out wide and seems to be inspecting inside them. This is because dentists do not only treat teeth—they are physicians of the entire mouth. When your dentist pulls your lip or cheek out, he or she is assessing the health of your tissue and looking for signs oral disease, including cancer. 
Looking for Cavities
Aside from examining x-rays for the presence of cavities, your dentist will look directly at your teeth. The small, pointy instrument they use to poke, scrape, and do otherwise unpleasant things to your teeth is called an “explorer.” In many cases, dentists assess the health of tooth structure by feel as much by sight. Areas of decay feel soft and sticky to the touch. By using the explorer to probe these areas, a determination can be made as to whether or not certain areas require treatment. 
There are other things your dentist may do, such as ask you to open and close while pressing against your jaw joint (assessing for TMJ) or to stick your tongue out and say “ah” (checking the tonsils). Rest assured that no matter how informal or mysterious your dentist’s exam routine might be, it is vitally important to your dental health. 
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