Dental examinations are important for people of all ages, with or without teeth. A cavity or a broken tooth may not cause any pain in the early stages but will be more complicated and expensive to treat at more advanced stages.
You should have regular dental examinations, even if you practise good dental hygiene.
Moreover, oral cancer seems more common in seniors, making early detection all the more critical.
The purpose of these check-ups is to:
- prevent any dental problems
- diagnose the condition of your mouth
- propose an appropriate treatment plan, if necessary
In addition, some conditions or habits can affect your oral health: smoking, drinking, certain illnesses and some medications.
During the examination, your dentist evaluates your:
- soft tissues beneath the tongue
- inside of the cheeks
Your dentist will look for any indication of gum infection or caries (cavities), worn fillings or any other unusual signs. Any dental prostheses will also be examined.
You will also be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire to provide the dentist with more information about your health and lifestyle, with questions concerning:
- general health
- previous hospitalizations
- medications taken and any allergies to medication
- risk factors, including tobacco use and alcohol consumption
- dental history
Your dentist may have to take x-rays to prepare a diagnosis. There is no risk involved, since you are exposed only to very small amounts of radiation, at specific points. You are also protected with a lead apron.
The frequency of examinations depends on each patient’s needs and a variety of factors, including:
- your oral health
- your oral care practices, in particular how regularly you brush and floss
- your general state of health and lifestyle
Tell your dentist about
- teeth that have become discoloured or have shifted
- unusual sensitivity of teeth or gums to heat, cold or sweet drinks or food
- discoloration, sensitivity or bleeding gums when brushing teeth or flossing
- discoloration of the surface of the inside of your mouth
- a sore on your lip or in your mouth, like an ulcer, that lasts longer than two weeks
- clenching or grinding your teeth, or tension in your neck or jaw
- the appearance of bumps on your neck
You must also inform your dentist of any change since your previous visit (new medication you are taking, serious illness, pregnancy, etc.).
What to bring along when you visit to the dentist
- An up-to-date list of your medications
- An up-to-date list of your medical problems and allergies
- The names and telephone numbers of your doctors and health providers
- The name and telephone number of your emergency contact
- Private dental insurance information, if relevant
Remember that you can always ask a family member or friend to go with you to the dentist.
You will also be asked to fill out a medical questionnaire to provide the dentist with more information about your health and lifestyle.
The Order recommends a visit every six months. Your dentist may change the recommended frequency of visits, if applicable, following the examination.