At VC Dental we want to help you achieve a healthy, functional smile for life.
General dentistry focuses on the overall health of your teeth and mouth. It is important for the early detection of any problems (such as tooth decay) so they can be prevented or treated in the initial stages.
Our general dental services begin with our routine examination appointments.
Our comprehensive oral examinations allow us to obtain a complete understanding of your dental health and general health, so we can establish a personalised plan to manage your immediate and future oral care needs, and achieve your dental health goals.
Our examinations also incorporate routine preventative hygiene treatment (such as professional teeth cleaning and gum maintenance). Your preventative care will be managed and performed by both a qualified oral hygienist and a dentist, who will work together for a comprehensive care approach.
You can learn more about our comprehensive oral hygiene services here
If you have not been to see the dentist in a while, we understand it might feel daunting taking the first step. However it is never too late to be proactive about your dental health. Our understanding team will work with you to help you get back into an oral health care routine.
Why are routine oral examinations important?
Our routine oral examinations allow for the early detection of any current or potential future problems, so we can effectively prevent or treat them.
Early detection can limit the likelihood of unpleasant surprises, and can prevent more serious problems occurring later. This means less invasive and less expensive dental treatment.
By gaining a comprehensive assessment of your dental condition, we are also able to provide you with proactive and ongoing management of your oral health needs. This includes scheduling routine preventative care, regularly checking your oral condition for any changes, providing you with oral health education, discussing any treatment you might require, and formulating a personalised ongoing care and treatment plan that takes your needs and desires into consideration.
As a new patient, your initial comprehensive appointment will provide the opportunity for you to get to know your treating practitioners (both your dentist and oral hygienist) and establish an ongoing relationship, so you feel comfortable in our care. You will be able to discuss any of your dental questions or concerns, as well as any dental goals you have or any elective treatment you might be interested in. At each subsequent routine appointment we will review this again with you.
Oral health is also an important factor of a healthy lifestyle, and is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. This is because there is a strong relationship between oral health and general health. Poor oral hygiene can not only lead to dental decay and gum disease, but studies show that poor oral health is significantly associated with other chronic systemic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, stroke and kidney disease1. Regular oral examinations have also become increasingly recognised as a window into the general health of the body. Research shows that a number of systemic conditions have oral manifestations (symptoms)2 meaning your dentist may be able to detect the early signs of a disease, for example, oral cancer and diabetes.
It’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene during and after pregnancy. For more information on oral health during pregnancy, please click here.
What happens during an oral examination?
Firstly we will conduct an overview of your general health. This includes asking questions about your medical history, your lifestyle, if you have any current or previous conditions, if you are regularly taking any medications or supplements, and if you have any allergies. This information may impact how we treat and diagnose any potential problems, and how we manage your oral health care.
At your ongoing routine appointments we will firstly check if there have been any changes to your medical history or lifestyle since your last appointment, so we can take them into consideration.
We will then comprehensively (but gently) assess your whole mouth including your teeth, gums and soft tissue. This includes:
- Assessment of your oral condition, including detecting if any tooth decay or gum disease is present.
- Complete charting of your existing oral condition. This is a record of all your teeth, noting the current condition of each individual tooth, any teeth you might be missing, and any additional teeth you might have.
- A bite assessment (how your teeth bite together).
- Thorough oral mucosal examination. This includes checking your cheeks, lips, tongue, throat and palate for oral cancer or any abnormalities.
- Assessment of your jaw joints, including jaw mobility.
- Examination of the lymph nodes in the head and neck area for any pain or tenderness.
Your appointment will also include time with an oral hygienist for a thorough oral assessment. This includes:
- Professional clean (scale) of your teeth and gums to remove any plaque or calculus. They will also provide a fluoride treatment to help strengthen your enamel, and polish your teeth to remove stains and produce a smooth and shiny surface.
- Assessment of gum health.
- Discussing your lifestyle factors (such as diet).
- Providing advice and education on a number of oral health topics that are specific to you.
For more information about our oral hygiene services, please click here
Additional diagnostic and educational tools
Intra-oral photos are taken on our intra-oral camera, which is a small digital camera that is shaped like an oversized pen. It is used to take video footage and photos from inside your mouth, and you can instantly view the images on the screen from the dental chair. This allows you to see exactly what your dentist is seeing. It helps us clearly show and explain to you any reasons for concern or proposed treatment.
As part of our comprehensive examinations, a full set of digital radiographs will be taken. These include both intraoral (inside the mouth) and extraoral (outside the mouth) images. At VC Dental all of our imaging is low radiation, digital and instant.
Radiographs are an essential diagnostic and preventative tool that allow us to see inside teeth, between teeth and below the gum line. For example, we are able to assess your jawbone (health and density), jaw alignment, tooth roots and supporting tissues, the condition of each tooth, the condition of existing fillings/restorations, the status of developing teeth, and the development of wisdom teeth.
This allows us to diagnose any potential dental conditions in their early stages, and discover conditions that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. These conditions can include dental decay, gum disease, abnormalities in the dental anatomy or soft tissue (such as abscesses), and some types of infections.
Intraoral images include:
These are X-rays that are taken to detect interproximal (between adjoining tooth surfaces) cavities (decay).
These are comprehensive X-rays taken of a specific tooth to identify localised problems. They whole the whole tooth from the crown (top) to beyond the end of the root to where the tooth is anchored in the jaw.
Extraoral images include:
An OPG (Orthopantomogram) which is a two-dimensional wide panoramic image that displays all the teeth, the upper and lower jawbones and the sinus cavity in a single image. It shows the number, position and development of all the teeth including those that have not yet erupted. An OPG can be used in the planning of orthodontic treatment, dental implant surgery, wisdom teeth removal and root canal treatment. OPGs can also help diagnose cysts, jaw disorders and bone irregularities.
A Lateral Cephalogram is a profile (side view) image of face. It includes your skull, soft tissues and facial contours in a single image and shows the relationship between your teeth and jaw bones. This image is usually taken at an orthodontic consultation (for example if you need braces).
For more information on radiographs, please click here.
When is my next examination?
Oral examinations are generally recommended every six months, however this can differ for each individual depending on their oral health needs.
What if I need any treatment?
Your dentist and hygienist will review any relevant findings of the examination with you. If you require any further treatment, the reasons will be discussed and explained in detail. We will also outline all the available treatment options, including the positives and negatives for each, so you are suitably informed. Once the treatment direction is decided, we will provide you with a written treatment plan. If we need to schedule further appointments to complete the treatment, we will do so at this time.
- Dental health services Victoria: Links between oral health and general health – the case for action (2011).
- Oral Manifestations of Systemic Disease – Medical University of South Carolina – Am Fam Physician. 2010.