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Examinations should be conducted at regular intervals. They serve three main functions;
Detection of disease and a basic health check.
Education and advice to encourage enhanced prevention.
Most patients will be seen every 6 months, some will be seen either at a 12 month or 3 / 4 month interval.
From experience we have found that patients who attend less regularly, perhaps on a two year or more interval run a greater risk of substantial and perhaps irreversible problems.
Our bodies can go wrong quite rapidly and we do see patients where even three monthly interventions are not enough.
What are we looking for with a basic examination; failed fillings, new decay, a soft tissue check, an assessment of the overall gum condition and its stability and an attempt to foresee problems that may emerge later on. We also assess any overall health changes and their effect dentally and there is a basic assessment of what we call the extraoral structures
For most patients the examination is combined with a scale and polish and OHI (Oral Hygiene Instruction ) so that all surfaces are properly checked by the examining dentist.
It is not always clear as an educational procedure but we usually give an assessment as we go along as to the effectiveness of the patients own care and further advice where we feel an improvement can be made.
At times we specifically direct all our attention to educational or dietary information.
Beyond the basic examination there are a subset of examinations that specifically focus on a particular area.
As such we may provide a second opinion, a preliminary orthodontic assessment, a soft tissue examination, a periodontal assessment, an assessment of the jaw and associated muscles and advanced treatment planning associated with implants, crown and bridgework and prosthetics.
A basic dental examination provides an incredibly simple screening tool for oral cancer. Oral cancer is rare with slightly less than 2000 deaths a year. It is a devastating and disfiguring disease but can be successfully treated if caught early enough.
The UK remains well behind many countries in the early detection of all cancers and the UK's poor cancer outcomes reflect this. We strongly recommend regular simple oral checks for this.