Comprehensive Exam

Many people make an appointment with their dentist for a teeth cleaning, however, a comprehensive exam can do much more than that. Comprehensive, meaning complete, covers all aspects of your dental health that can include a cleaning as well as a physical exam of the mouth, head, and neck area. At Healthy Living Dentistry, we believe regular comprehensive exams are an important part of your dental health, as well as overall wellbeing.

What is a Comprehensive Exam?

A comprehensive exam is used to detect signs of tooth decay, cavities, gum and bone recession, irregular bite, and oral cancer. A comprehensive exam can also detect many conditions beyond the mouth including diabetes, lymphoma, cardiovascular problems, sinus problems, and immune abnormalities. This is what makes a comprehensive exam so important to not only your dental health but overall health as well. A comprehensive exam is a preventative procedure because it works to detect early signs of dental and medical issues to prevent further complications. Early detection is crucial to successful treatment for many of these conditions.

You may Need a Comprehensive Exam if:

  • You are new to a dental practice – a comprehensive exam gives Dr. Kim a benchmark for your overall health.
  • You have specific concerns related to your teeth – if you experience problems such as mouth lesions, jaw pain, or tooth or gum pain, you might schedule a comprehensive exam to determine the cause.
  • You are at a higher risk for oral cancer – if you are over the age of 50, use tobacco, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or have a suppressed immune system, you should schedule regular comprehensive exams to watch for signs of oral cancer.
  • You have had recent changes to your health – a comprehensive exam can ensure that your recent health changes haven’t affected your teeth and gums.

What to Expect During a Comprehensive Exam

During the first part of your comprehensive exam, you will be asked about your dental and medical history. This is the time for you to voice any concerns you’ve been having or questions you’d like answered during the exam.

Dr. Kim will perform a visual exam and check for staining, cavities, tooth decay, conditions of crowns or fillings (if present), and gum health. He will also examine the tongue, lips, cheeks, and roof and floor of the mouth to check for any structural or functional abnormalities. An X-ray will be done to give a visual of the teeth and bones under the surface. Dr. Kim can also examine the head and neck for signs of abnormalities or other medical conditions. He will also check the lymph nodes for tenderness and signs of disease.
At the end of your appointment, Dr. Kim or a staff member will go over any observations and findings. If they discovered anything concerning during the exam, they might recommend further appointments, cleanings, or an appointment with Dr. Kim for treatment.