Comprehensive Examination

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The comprehensive examination is a process in which Drs. Michelle M. Lee and Richard W. Reddy take necessary records to provide a thorough diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan. This examination will include:

Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is one of the most under-discussed but prevalent forms of cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society has recently released information showing that, while incidents of cancers overall have reduced in the United States, the occurrences of oral cancers are actually increasing, as is its mortality rate.

With proper screening and early diagnosis, the severity of oral cancer drops significantly. But as with most forms of cancer, being able to detect the cancer in an early stage is crucial. That’s why our office uses advanced oral cancer screening equipment, to be able to detect and screen for the lesions that indicate possible oral cancer easily and accurately. Using specialized lights and optics, your dentist is able to conduct an oral cancer screening that can detect lesions that are invisible to the unaided human eye. These screenings are fast and completely comfortable – and best of all, they are the best possible way to ensure that your mouth is healthy and cancer-free!

We recommend an annual oral cancer screening for our patients, particularly if you:

  • Are above the age of 30
  • Use tobacco products, or have used them in the past 10 years
  • Consume an average of 1 alcoholic drink or more per day
  • Have been previously diagnosed with any form of cancer

Don’t become a statistic – talk to us today about the dangers and warning signs of oral cancer, and schedule a screening with your next appointment!

Periodontal/Gum Health Examination

The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Therefore, periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. The infection starts when the gums become inflamed due to bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth. While this is often the main cause of periodontal disease, other factors can also be attributed to affecting the health of the gums and bone, including:

  • Smoking or Tobacco Use
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications
  • Diabetes
  • Poor Nutrition

Periodontal disease comes in many forms. Gingivitis is perhaps the mildest form of gum disease. While the gums become red, swollen and bleed easily, there is very little to no discomfort associated at this stage of the disease. Through a good oral hygiene regimen and treatment from your dentist, the results of gingivitis can be reversed.

Periodontitis is another form of periodontal disease and can be aggressive or chronic. Aggressive periodontitis displays rapid bone destruction and attachment loss in clinically healthy patients. Chronic periodontitis is one of the most common forms of periodontal disease and is frequently seen in adults. The stages progress slowly and can be recognized by gum recession and pocket formation.

Treatment and Prevention
In certain cases, periodontal surgery may be recommended to treat periodontal disease when non-surgical treatment is ineffective. We may advise procedures such as pocket reduction, soft tissue grafts or bone regeneration to treat periodontal disease. If a tooth has been lost due to periodontal disease, dental implants are always an option for permanent tooth replacement.

Good oral hygiene and regular visits with your dentist and periodontist can prevent periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing can keep plaque to a minimum and, in conjunction with professional cleanings 2-4 times a year, can keep your teeth healthy for life.

Call our office if you notice any warning signs of periodontal disease:

  • Gums that persistently or easily bleed
  • Swollen, tender, red or pus-filled gums
  • Excessively “long” teeth or gums that are pulling away from teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or persistent bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose or spreading teeth
  • Changes in occlusion (bite)

Occlusal/Bite Examination

We can provide an expert analysis of your occlusion, or your bite. The way your teeth come together when biting can provide valuable information about your dental and periodontal health as well as provide clues as to the state of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Common bite concerns include:

  • Underbites, where the lower jaw extends past the upper jaw.
  • Spacing problems, which can be a cosmetic or orthodontic issue.
  • Upper Front Teeth Protrusion, where the upper front teeth extend too far forward, causing problems with the appearance and function of the front teeth.
  • Crowding, where there is insufficient room for teeth to emerge, a common orthodontic complaint.
  • Crossbite, where the upper teeth sit inside the lower jaw, causing occlusal and jaw growth problems.
  • Overbite, where the upper teeth overextend in front of the lower jaw.
  • Openbite, where the upper and lower teeth do not overlap in the front of the mouth, greatly impairing chewing.
  • Mismatched Midlines, where the centers of the upper and lower jaws do not match, typically caused by a misfit in the back bite.

Caries/Cavity Examination

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occurs on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce acids that break down the mineral in teeth, forming a cavity. Dentists remove the decay and fill the tooth using a variety of fillings, restoring the tooth to a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that can cap a tooth, making it stronger or covering it). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.

Sealants
The grooves and depressions that form the chewing surfaces of the back teeth are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to clean of bacteria and food. As the bacteria reacts with the food, acids form and break down the tooth enamel, causing cavities. Recent studies indicate that 88 percent of total cavities in American school children are caused this way.

Tooth sealants protect these susceptible areas by sealing the grooves and depressions, preventing bacteria and food particles from residing in these areas. Sealant material is a resin typically applied to the back teeth, molars and premolars and areas prone to cavities. It lasts for several years but needs to be checked during regular appointments.

Fluoride
Fluoride is a substance that helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing and flossing regularly ensures significantly lower cavities. Dentists can evaluate the level of fluoride in a primary drinking water source and recommend fluoride supplements (usually in tablets or drops), if necessary.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction Examination

The “Temporomandibular Joint,” more commonly referred to as the “jaw joint,” assists in the basic opening and closing movements of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. The causes of TMJ disorders are not fully known. Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. Many times, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking.

We offer a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue, which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth. Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMJ. Disorders of the TMJ are also a common culprit in recurring headaches and migraines.

For more serious cases of TMJ, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouthguard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the TMJ joint. For the most severe cases of TMJ, we may recommend certain invasive procedures. If you or someone you love is suffering from TMJ disorder symptoms, simply contact our office for a TMJ evaluation.