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Fact Sheets

What's in a checkup?

Regular checkups are key to your dental health.

Some people have a strange attitude towards checkups. They think that if the dentist doesn't find something wrong, they've wasted their time. A series of successful checkups can discourage people from ever seeing their dentist again.

The idea that you should only see your dentist when something is wrong with your teeth may end up costing you a lot of money, time and comfort. Your dentist can detect and treat most dental problems before you're even aware of them.

Checkups are not isolated events. They're a series of regular assessments of the condition of your mouth, part of a long-term strategy for keeping healthy. A successful checkup shows you that your home care is working, and that it's not a waste of time. Also, regular professional cleaning will make an enormous difference to the condition of your mouth.

What's happens at a checkup?
Procedures vary with each dentist, but the basic elements of an adult checkup are:

Review of dental records, medical history and past X-rays
Your dentist keeps detailed records of your dental health. If you move to a new community or change your dentist for another reason, make sure a copy of your records is transferred to your new dentist without delay. Your request for this must be in writing. Your dentist may charge a reason - able fee for copying your records and x-rays.

Overall examination
Dentists don't just check your teeth; they also check your gums, tongue, cheeks and palate to assess your overall health.

X-rays if necessary
X-rays help the dentist check areas of teeth and tissue otherwise not visible. They show cavities instantly; they show the location and condition of your present fillings, and even the condition of the root and tissue surrounding the tooth. Done properly, dental X-rays are completely safe. Even so, it's good practice to avoid any unnecessary exposure. You should tell your dentist if you are pregnant, or if you have recently had a lot of medical X-rays.

This is a must for preventing gum disease, the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. It also makes your teeth and gums look great.

Fluoride treatment
Regular fluoride treatments are a useful supplement to the fluoride many of us already get in our drinking water and most dental hygiene products. These treatments help prevent tooth decay; recent studies also suggest that fluoride may slow down plaque formation as well.

Counseling
After an examination, your dentist assesses your home care practices, and may give you advice or information about areas that could be improved.

How often should you see your dentist?
Only you and your dentist can determine the answer to that question.

Talk to your dentist regularly. We care about you and your teeth.

This information courtesy of your Manitoba Dentist.