The Dental Exam

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The dental exam is critical to your ongoing oral health—and only your dentist can perform this.

The exam consists, in part, of the dentist looking inside your mouth. In the past, you may not have ever realized an exam was taking place. Perhaps you thought the dentist was checking the work the hygienist had just completed.

Not so. The dentist actually looks in your mouth for things that can affect your oral—and your overall—health. Many of these are things you can’t see on your own, but that a dentist is trained to detect. Here is some of what your dentist is looking for during a dental exam:

  • damaged, missing or decayed teeth
  • early signs of cavities
  • condition of your gums, such as periodontal pockets, inflammation or other signs of gum disease (which can lead to tooth and bone loss)
  • to see how previous dental work such as root canals, fillings and crowns are holding up
  • early signs of mouth or throat cancer, such as white lesions or blocked salivary glands
  • other suspicious growths or cysts
  • position of your teeth (e.g., spacing, bite)
  • signs that you clench or grind your teeth (a treatable problem that can cause headache or sore jaw and can, if serious, lead to hearing loss and tooth loss)
  • signs of bleeding or inflammation on your tongue and on the roof or floor of your mouth
  • the overall health and function of your temporomandibular joint (which joins the jaw to skull), checking for signs of disorders that can cause pain or tenderness
  • the general condition of the bones in your face, jaw and around your mouth

The dental exam can catch problems early—before you see or feel them—when they are much easier and less expensive to treat.

As well as the visual inspection of your mouth, the exam includes:

  • a complete medical history so the dentist knows about any health conditions that may affect the success of dental treatments or procedures or that may be associated with oral health problems.

It may also include:

  • an examination of your neck area, with the dentist feeling the glands and lymph nodes for possible signs of inflammation that could indicate general health problems; and
  • dental x-rays, if necessary. These can show such problems as cavities under existing fillings, fractures, impacted wisdom teeth, decay under your gum line and bone loss caused by gum disease.

Your dentist may explain what’s happening during the exam and give you a summary of the findings. If not, be sure to ask. As patient, you are a full partner in your oral health care.


Be Sure to Tell Your Dentist

The more your dentist knows about your overall health, the more effective they can be in addressing your oral health care needs. Be sure to mention:

  • any new medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed with since your last visit, such as diabetes or AIDS, even if they don’t seem pertinent. Your dentist needs to know to properly manage your treatment and prevention program.
  • any new medications you’re taking (side effects can often include dry mouth and overgrown gums)
  • if you’re pregnant
  • if you have any allergies
  • any changes you’ve noticed in your teeth, such as changes in colour, looseness or position
  • any changes you’ve noticed in your gums, such as bleeding when you brush or floss, or changes in appearance
  • any increased sensitivity to heat, cold or sweets
  • whether your floss catches on rough edges, causing it to shred
  • any colour changes in the skin on the inside of your mouth
  • if you smoke or chew tobacco (which increases the likelihood of oral cancer)
  • if your neck or jaw muscles are tight or if you’re aware of clenching or grinding your teeth
  • if you’re nervous about going to the dentist—new ways of doing things have made modern dentistry more comfortable for patients, and talking to your dentist may reassure you and help you feel more relaxed.

Please call the office at 905-668-6301 to book your dental exam appointment.

(Information provided by the Canadian Dental Association)

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ODA Suggested Fee Guide

The Ontario Dental Association publishes The ODA Suggested Fee Guide for General Practitioners©.  The Guide is based on the provision of dental services which are performed under normal conditions.  It is intended to serve only as a reference for the general practitioner to enable development of a structure of fees which is fair and reasonable to the patient and to the practitioner.  The Guide is not obligatory and each practitioner is expected to determine independently the fees which will be charged for the services performed, which means that fees will vary both above and below the Guide.  The Guide is issued merely for professional information purposes, without any intention or expectation whatsoever that a practitioner will adopt the suggested fees.

The Guide is not available on the ODA website. However, copies have been placed in the reference section of many public libraries so that members of the public can access this document.

The Guide is approximately 80 pages in length, contains roughly 1,300 dental services and it is written using correct dental terminology so you will not find words such as cleaning, check-up, filling, cap, bridge and so on.  Each dental service is identified by a five-digit number called a procedure code.  The descriptions attached to the procedure code describe the dental service but not the reason the service was performed.  For example, the Guide contains several procedure codes that describe veneers — however, none of the descriptions identify the reason the veneer is being placed (i.e., for cosmetic reasons or to restore a tooth that  is missing or has lost tooth structure).  Furthermore, you will not find dental plan contract language such as basic, major, cosmetic nor will you find frequency limitations such as “once every six months”.  This type of language is specific to a dental plan contract and it is used to describe the situations under which subscribers will be reimbursed for specific dental services.  The Guide is a listing of dental services that general practitioners may perform.

If you have the procedure codes for the treatment that was prescribed or performed by your dentist, you may contact the ODA’s Practice Advisory Services staff who can provide you with information about the suggested fees.


(Information provided by the ODA)

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