Dental Exams & Check-Ups

Great oral hygiene begins with a consistent and healthy routine. We recommend visiting the dentist at least once per year for x-rays, dental cleanings, cavity prevention, and oral cancer screenings, but every six months is better if you’re able to. 

What is a Dental Exam?

A dental exam or check-up is used to review your overall oral health. The clinical team may include x-rays, cleanings, cavity prevention, and potential oral cancer screenings. At the Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we are dedicated to not only reviewing your oral health but teaching our patients about oral hygiene best practices.

Are Dental Exams Actually That Important?

Yes! Dental exams are extremely important for overall oral health and wellness. When our staff cleans your teeth, we can eliminate bacteria better than you can at home, even if you stick to a strict oral hygiene routine. Without annual dental exams, you may be at a higher risk for gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. Regular checkups can prevent gum inflammations, infection, tooth decay, and potential tooth loss. 

How Often Should I Get a Dental Exam?

We recommend that at a minimum, you should visit your dentist once per calendar year. However, if you can manage to visit your dentist every six months, we recommend that you do so. If your dentist finds gum disease or has concerns about your oral health, they may request you visit more often. 

Do I Need to Prepare for a Dental Exam? 

There isn’t anything specific you need to do before visiting your dentist except continue your regular oral hygiene routine. Your routine should consist of:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for about two minutes
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing once a day to remove food and plaque
  • Replacing your toothbrush every three to four months

You may also want to review your dental insurance to confirm what will be covered and what payments you will be expected to make at your appointment.

More About Oral Hygiene

What to Expect at a Dental Exam?

At a routine dental exam, you can expect to be seen by both a dental hygienist and your dentist. Most exams will last between 45 minutes to an hour and will begin with an overview of your dental history. An exam may include:

  • A Cleaning
  • X-Rays
  • Oral Cancer Screening
  • Dental Impressions
  • A Discussion of Next Steps


During a dental cleaning, a dental hygienist will check for cavities and any signs of gum disease. They will use a series of picks and scrapers to remove plaque, and possibly tartar buildup depending on the state of your teeth. After scraping, the hygienist may polish your teeth to remove any lingering plaque. The final step of a dental cleaning is flossing to remove any buildup that may remain.


X-rays do not need to be taken at every dental exam, but they do offer a perspective of the mouth that is hidden from view under normal circumstances. Your dentist may recommend x-rays if they have a concern about your oral health, but they may also be recommended as a routine precaution. 

Oral Cancer Screening

We do not screen every patient for oral cancer, but a dental exam is a chance for those that are at high risk to be screened. Higher-risk patients include those who smoke tobacco products, drink alcohol, or eat an unhealthy diet. 

More About Oral Cancer Screenings

Dental Impressions

Similar to x-rays, dental impressions are not required during every routine dental exam. These impressions are most likely to be performed on patients who may need braces, nightguards, or a bleaching tray. These impressions are made by filling a mouth-shaped tray with a gelatin-like material and placing it over the upper and lower bites. 

Discussion of Next Steps

At the end of your exam, your dentist should sit down with you a discuss your exam results, including any changes you should make to your oral care routine, your x-rays, and if you had a screening or impressions done. If something concerning is found, such as a cavity or gum disease, your dentist can discuss further treatment and additional scheduling. 

What If I’m Scared to Go to the Dentist?

We completely understand that the dentist and dental exams can cause fear in people. In fact, up to 15% of people are afraid of the dentist. The Memphis Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry offers sedation dentistry to those who postpone dental visits because of fear, anxiety, stress, or physical discomfort in the dental chair. This safe and effective sedation option involves administering a mild oral sedative in combination with nitrous oxide.

More About Sedation Dentistry

Schedule An Appointment With the Memphis Center for Family and Cosmetic Dentistry

We are passionate about serving patients of every age. Whether you're looking for a dentist for the entire family or for yourself, we are here to serve you. If you are experiencing general dental issues, our team is ready to help find a solution for you. Our office uses only the newest materials and techniques for each service we provide. Visit our office or contact us to request your consultation. 



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