You may have never heard of a dental recall exam before—but you may have had one anyway. A dental recall exam is another name for a regular exam and cleaning. It’s an essential part of maintaining individual dental health and family dental health.
Types of Dental Exams
Just like how you don’t need a doctor checking your elbow when you complain about your head, dentists provide different exams depending on your health needs. A dental exam can be a lot of things, but you can generally think of them in 4 ways:
- A comprehensive exam
- A limited exam
- An emergency exam
- A recall exam
Comprehensive Dental Exams
Comprehensive dental exams are exactly what they sound like: a complete examination of your teeth, gums, and jaw. If you visit a new dentist, they’ll typically begin with this exam to get a full picture of your oral health.
A comprehensive exam may involve taking X-rays from several angles to look for cavities that need fillings or other unaddressed oral health conditions. Then, with a baseline reading of your mouth, your dentist can follow up by focusing on trouble spots. They may repeat this comprehensive exam every several years to make sure your treatment is up-to-date.
Limited Dental Exams
A limited dental exam is when you need to see a dentist for a specific, non-emergency, tooth-related problem. This problem could be a toothache, sensitivity, a crack, or any other oral condition affecting just one spot.
In this case, your dentist may only need to examine or X-ray that area rather than thoroughly evaluate your entire mouth.
Emergency Dental Exams
While they can sometimes overlap with a limited dental exam, emergency dental exams are performed when you come in after a dental emergency. If you experience an injury or sudden tooth pain, you can contact your dentist for emergency care and support.
What Happens During a Recall Exam?
A recall exam is a regular checkup with your dentist. It allows us to monitor your oral health and is generally paired with a cleaning. Our teeth get a lot of use throughout the year, so consistent visits to your dentist are a great way to watch out for areas of concern.
Over time, plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth and cause gum disease. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily can help remove plaque before it hardens, but only a dentist has the tools and expertise to remove tartar. Regular cleanings can also help prevent tartar buildup by removing plaque in hard-to-reach areas.
Typically, before a dentist examines your teeth during a recall exam, a dental hygienist will use fine tools to clean each tooth. They may also give you a fluoride rinse. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can help prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel.
Once the cleaning is done, your dentist can inspect your teeth and gums. They’ll review your previous X-rays and follow up on any concerns your hygienist noted. Afterward, your dental hygienist may polish your teeth for a radiant smile.
How Often Should You See a Dentist?
Dentists recommend you get a recall exam every 6 months. This general timeline works for most people, but your individual needs will determine the best schedule for you. For example, serious tooth decay or gum disease may require more frequent checkups to make sure they’re not getting out of hand.
Dental issues can develop slowly and might not be problematic when first detected, but noticing the warning signs can give you a chance to make changes at home that could stop a minor issue from becoming a big problem.
Oral Health Begins at Home
While a regular dental exam is an essential part of your routine, the more time and care you spend on your teeth at home, the more regular cleanings and exams can support your oral health.
Here are some tips for oral hygiene:
- Brush at least twice a day
- Floss daily
- Reduce your consumption of sugary drinks and food
- Drink water
- Don’t smoke or use vape pens
Request an appointment for your next dental exam and cleaning, and keep on smiling with support from our team!