Young man having dental exam

07 Dec What to Expect During a Dental Exam

On average, most people visit the dentist at least once a year for a routine dental exam. Regular dental examinations are essential to maintaining your oral health and keeping your teeth in good shape. While hearing strange noises and having someone working inside your mouth can be unsettling, we’re going to outline exactly what happens during a dental exam so you can sit back and relax next time you visit the dentist with the knowledge of what’s going on.

Young man having dental exam

What To Expect During a Dental Exam: Meet Your Hygienist

After arriving at the dentist and checking in with the receptionist, you will meet your dental hygienist. Your hygienist will spend the most time working on your teeth during your appointment and are an integral part of any dental office.

You may also see a Certified Dental Assistant, or CDA, during your appointment. While CDA’s don’t do as much of the hands-on work that hygienists do, they provide excellent assistance with prep work and assisting dentists during procedures.

Clean Those Pearly Whites

Once you are in the chair and are ready to start your dental exam, your hygienist will ask you to share any history you have concerns about. If you have been feeling pain or odd sensations that may allude to you having a cavity, now is the time to share that information!

After sharing any concerns that you may have, your hygienist will begin working on cleaning your teeth. This process starts by scraping built-up plaque and tartar buildup from around your gum line. From there, your hygienist will floss between and around each tooth to remove any pesky food particles. To finish off your cleaning, they will use a tooth polisher to get rid of any residue and help smooth out your teeth.

Examining Your Teeth

After your teeth have been cleaned, your hygienist will move on to examine your teeth. They will check for the softening of tooth enamel and dentin and will check for any swelling in your gums, mouth sores and redness. To finish off their exam, hygienists will measure the periodontal pockets, which are the spaces between the top of the gum line and where the gum attaches to the tooth. The ideal depth is between 1 and 3 millimetres.

Dentist reviewing dental x-rays with patient


Dental X-Rays

The final step before your hygienist hands you over to your dentist is to take dental x-rays. This step is key to helping your dentist find out if there are any issues lingering below the surface of your mouth. The full x-ray will show not only your teeth but also the roots below your gum line and your jawbones.

X-rays give your dentist the ability to see exactly what is happening in your mouth and recommend and perform the proper oral care needed.

Dental Examination

The dental exam done by your dentist is different than the one performed by your hygienist. After looking at your x-rays to see exactly what is happening beneath the surface, your dentist will feel your jawbones to make sure your bite is aligned and there is no clicking in the joints of your jaw. They will look at the groves of your teeth to determine whether any have been cracked or smoothed due to grinding or clenching your teeth. To finish off, your dentist will feel behind your jaw and neck to see if there are any signs of oral cancer.

Young woman at the dentist

Get Your Results

Once your dental exam is complete, your dentist will let you know if there is anything going on in your mouth that needs to be addressed. This may involve booking another appointment at a later date to have a cavity filled, or simply booking your next routine dental exam.


Are you due for your routine dental exam? Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our experienced team!