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Dental exams are used to help find tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems early, when they’re easier to treat. These exams are essential for protecting oral health. Most children and adults should get a dental exam every six months. Oral health problems can become severe and painful if not treated promptly.

Dental exams are usually performed by both a dentist and a dental hygienist. A dentist is a doctor specially trained to care for teeth and gums. A dental hygienist is a healthcare professional qualified to clean teeth and help patients maintain good oral health habits.

Other names: dental checkup, oral exam

What to Expect

A typical dental exam will include a cleaning by a hygienist, x-rays on certain visits, and a checkup of your mouth by the dentist.

During the dentist’s checkup, the dentist will:

  • Check your x-rays, if you’ve had them, for cavities or other problems.
  • Look at your teeth and gums to see if they are healthy.
  • Check the bite (the way the top and bottom teeth fit together). If there is a bite problem, you may be referred to an orthodontist.
  • Check for oral cancer. This includes feeling under your jaw, checking the insides of your lips, the sides of your tongue, and on the roof and floor of your mouth.
  • In addition to the above checks, a pediatric dentist may check to see if your child’s teeth are developing normally.

Treatment plans are designed and determined on a case by case basis and no service is available “on demand”

If you have certain health conditions, you may need to take antibiotics before your exam. These conditions include:

  • Heart problems
  • Immune system disorders
  • Recent surgery

Also, some people feel anxious about going to the dentist. If you or your child feels this way, you may want to talk to the dentist beforehand. He or she may be able to help you or your child feel more relaxed and comfortable during the exam.


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We are committed to providing compassionate, quality healthcare to the people of Southern, Central, and Western Maine. Our locations are easy to find, with convenient parking close by.

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