Diagnostic (Exam & Diagnosis)


Comprehensive Oral Exam

A comprehensive dental exam will be performed by your dentist at your initial dental visit.  At regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will include the following:

  • Examination of diagnostic x-rays (digital radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss.  X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
  • Intraoral camera evaluation:  Used as an aid in communicating to the patient areas of concern discovered during the visual exam.
  • Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
  • Treatment plan presented:  Treatment options and recommendations will be discussed.

Digital X-Rays

Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.  Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan.  Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.

Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Bone loss
  • Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
  • Decay between the teeth
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Poor tooth and root positions
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line

Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!

Are dental x-rays safe?

  • A new system of taking X-rays, called digital radiography, reduces radiation by as much as 80 percent compared to traditional dental x-rays.

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment.  The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.

Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe.  Precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using digital sensors to reduce the exposure time of each x-ray.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients or a recent diagnostic quality copy may suffice.  A full series is usually good for three to five years.  Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are generally recommended once a year to detect new dental problems.