Reviewed by Dr. Gary Morris, DDS

Regular visits to the dentist are crucial for maintaining good oral health. They help keep your teeth and gums healthy and allow your dentist to catch any potential issues early on and provide necessary treatment.

But have you ever wondered what exactly your dentist is looking for during a dental exam? Here are 10 things that your dentist is checking.

1. Overall Oral Hygiene and Health

Your dentist evaluates the general health of your teeth and gums. They check for any signs of inflammation, plaque buildup, and gum disease.

2. Signs of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the most common issues dentists look for during an exam. Identifying a cavity early can save you from major dental work down the line. Your dentist will do a visual inspection, and they may do an x-ray to check for cavities that are harder to spot.  

3. Signs of Gum Disease

The dentist checks for any signs of gum disease, including:

  • Redness: Inflammation and swelling of the gums is a common sign of gum disease.
  • Swelling:  Puffy, swollen gums are an indication of gum disease.
  • Bleeding gums:  Bleeding while brushing or flossing can be a sign of gum disease.

Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss, so catching it early is crucial for maintaining good oral health.

4. Condition of Previous Dental Work

Existing fillings, crowns, and other dental work are inspected for wear and damage. If any of them need to be repaired or replaced, your dentist will make recommendations accordingly. 

5. Dental X-rays

Dental X-rays help identify problems that are not visible during a visual exam, such as issues below the gum line or within the jawbone. These images provide a comprehensive view of your oral health. The ADA has specific guidelines that dentists use to determine when a patient is due for x-rays.  

6. Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screening is a preventive measure to catch any early signs of cancer. This involves:

  1. Visual inspection of the mouth and throat
  2. Physical examination of the neck and jaw

Make sure to regularly schedule dental exams to catch any potential issues early on.

7. Examination of the Bite and Jaw Alignment

Your dentist will analyze how your teeth align when you bite and check for any jaw issues. They are important aspects of a dental exam. Improper bite or misaligned jaws can lead to issues like teeth grinding (bruxism) and TMJ disorders.

8. Plaque and Tartar Build-up

The build-up of plaque and tartar can lead to gum disease if not treated. Your dentist will check these levels and recommend steps for improvement. They may advise you to brush and floss more frequently or suggest a professional cleaning.

9. Checking Salivary Glands

Saliva plays a significant role in maintaining good oral health. Your dentist will check the function of your salivary glands and evaluate if you have a dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.

10. Recommendations for Improvements

Based on the findings, your dentist may suggest the following:

  • Improved cleaning techniques
  • Follow-up dental visits
  • Further testing or dental procedures
Key Takeaway
The goal of regular dental check-ups is not just to identify potential issues but to prevent them before they become serious. Keeping up with your dental exams ensures not just a beautiful smile but also contributes significantly to your overall health and wellbeing.

Morris Dental Solutions: Your Buffalo Grove Dentist

Morris Dental Solutions is your trusted dentist for all your oral health needs. From regular check-ups and cleanings to advanced dental procedures, our team is committed to providing exceptional care and helping you achieve a healthy smile.

If you are searching for the “best dentist in Buffalo Grove, IL” schedule an appointment today. Call (847) 215-1511 or complete the online booking form. We’re also happy to serve the communities of Barrington, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, and Highland Park.


How often should I schedule a dental exam?

It is recommended to have a dental exam every 6 months, but your dentist may recommend more frequent visits depending on your oral health needs.

What can I expect during a dental exam?

A dental exam typically includes visual inspection of the mouth and teeth, X-rays if necessary, checking for signs of tooth decay and gum disease, oral cancer screening, and recommendations for improvements.

What should I do if I have dental anxiety?

If you experience dental anxiety, let your dentist know beforehand. They can offer sedation options or discuss techniques to help you relax during the exam. It is important not to skip regular dental exams due to fear or anxiety.

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