What Is a Comprehensive Examination?
A comprehensive examination is a detailed examination and thorough assessment intended to establish and record a baseline of oral health for a new or existing patient. The exam goes beyond the basics of a standard dental checkup by including evaluations and examinations intended to screen both general and oral health.
A comprehensive examination is completed when a patient first establishes care with our dentist, hasn’t seen the dentist for more than two years, has experienced significant health changes since their previous dental appointment or during a patient’s wellness appointment every three to five years.
How Does a Comprehensive Examination Differ from a Standard Dental Checkup?
A standard checkup includes a visual examination of the teeth and gums and possible review of X-rays taken at a dental cleaning visit. This type of appointment is designed to follow up a comprehensive examination. During a standard checkup, our dentist will look for any changes that might have occurred since the patient’s last comprehensive exam.
A comprehensive examination begins with a review of why they are here for this appointment, for example cosmetics, orthodontics, toothache or other dental related concerns.This is discussed in detail with the patient and recorded so the patient knows this will be addressed as a first priority. Next a collection and review of the patient’s medical history including any notable hospitalizations, health problems, medications or allergies. Then a thorough review of their dental history and comfort level detailing any fears,anxieties or bad experiences so the doctors may schedule treatment in a calm and comfortable setting.
Our dentists will then thoroughly examine the interior of the oral cavity and exterior of the head and neck assessing both hard and soft tissues and looking for any signs of abnormalities such as pain, visible changes in color, new growths or other potential disease markers such as oral cancer.
A comprehensive dental examination will also include a full series of dental X-Rays and photographs to facilitate a thorough assessment of the patient’s condition and diagnosing any developing cavities, infections or abnormalities.
Next one of our dentists will chart all of the existing dental restorations and then complete a Periodontal, TMJ, Bruxism, Orthodontic and complete tooth by tooth exam evaluating the current quality and condition. These findings are then reviewed with the patient and all questions are answered and addressed.
Finally, the collected information is reviewed by the doctor and a treatment plan is created and phased into a treatment sequence which the doctor feels will optimize the patients oral and overall health while aligning with the patients comfort level and budget.
Comprehensive Exams Are Essential to Overall Health
Many deeper health problems first express themselves with symptoms that can be detected in and around a patient’s oral cavity. With a thorough examination, dentists are often the first healthcare professionals to detect signs of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, oral cancer, leukemia, immune system abnormalities, chronic sinus problems, and other systemic illnesses before other symptoms occur.