What Should I Expect in a Dental Exam?


If you’re one of those dental patients who lets a long time – sometimes even years – go by without seeing your dentist, don’t let fear or shame keep you away. Who wants to wait until there is a painful problem to deal with? Now is always the best time to schedule an appointment to get the care you need.  

Going back to the dentist after a long time can be intimidating, but it’s much easier if you know all the steps involved in the dental exam.

Your Dental Exam Female doctor and her smiling assistant showing teeth x-ray to male patient in dental hospital. Handsome men with beard sitting in medical chair and looking at the picture.

Dental X-Rays. If you haven’t been to the dentist for over a year, you will need to have x-rays taken. These are crucial for a full assessment of your oral health. If you have gagging issues with the bitewing plates, tell the hygienist. There are many ways to help patients overcome that gag reflex.

Teeth Cleaning. Even if you brush and floss regularly, you’re still likely to have some plaque. The most regular brusher can leave food behind, and over time it will turn into plaque and tartar deposits. The hygienist will clean your teeth with an assortment of water tools and hand tools. If you haven’t been brushing and flossing, it is normal for your gums to bleed slightly or feel sore. The cleaning process will help them heal and be less sensitive next time.

After the cleaning, your dentist will examine your mouth for cavities and signs of oral cancer and gum recession.

Consultation With Your Dentist

Your last step will be a meeting with the dentist. If you haven’t been to the dentist for a long time, it’s highly likely you’ll have at least one or two cavities that need to be filled. Your dentist will schedule a separate appointment for this work to be done.

Regular dental appointments help catch small problems before they turn into big, expensive and complicated problems, so it really is worth your while to come in regularly. I recommend a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning every six months. 

Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!

Dr. Nishan Halim

Note: Each November I grow a mustache to support the Movember Foundation. This global charity is committed to men living happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $650 million and funding over 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health, and physical inactivity. You can help – look for my DONATE  page. 

Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric dentistry in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. As a family dentist, he takes extra time with new patients to remove the stress and anxiety from the dental experience. You can schedule your introductory first appointment with him online.


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