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Comprehensive Dental Evaluation: What is it and why do I want it?
The foundation of all proper healthcare is knowing where you are at and where you want to go. Every patient is different. They have different histories, different current statuses and different goals. Accurately and thoroughly determining the patient's history, current status and goals is critical to determining the options available. This is just as important when seeing the physician as it is when seeing the dentist.
In our dental office this is achieved by having a Comprehensive Dental Evaluation. The American Dental Association defines a Comprehensive Dental Evaluation as ". . . a thorough evaluation and recording of the extraoral and intraoral hard and soft tissues. . ."
History. To start with, we consider your chief complaint (i.e. "why are you here?"), your concerns and your expectations. Your dental and medical history will be reviewed to identify predisposing conditions and medications that may be affecting your current dental or future dental condition, as well as your treatment options.
Current Status. We then determine your current status by evaluating the diagnostic data. This usually includes a general dental health assessment (your overall dental health, oral hygiene, risks for tooth or root decay, gum and bone disease), x-rays and photographs, oral cancer screening, occlusal analysis, periodontal probing, orthodontic screening and a thorough assessment of each tooth for decay, fractures, and the condition of existing dental work.
Goals. We then combine the findings and observations from your history and diagnostic data to review with you. When you are given this information in non-technical terms you are able to decide what your goals are and then we can determine what treatment options are available to meet your goals. Lastly, these goals are written down into your treatment plan.
"This seems like a lot. I don't have any dental problems and just want my teeth cleaned." Like many systemic medical conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer) there are many dental conditions that patients do not notice the problem until significant, and potentially irreversible, damage is done. By delaying diagnosis and treatment, a tooth that only needed a filling might need a root canal and a crown, a tooth that needed periodontal treatment might need an extraction or a pre-cancerous lesion that could have been easily biopsied and removed could require major radical surgery.
Another added benefit of having a Comprehensive Dental Evaluation is that the diagnostic data can establish a baseline. In our dental practice the standard new patient visit will produce 41 different photographic and x-ray images. Often time we will take additional views or even 3D scans if something is observed in the standard images. Before, during and after treatments we constantly take images - mostly photographs. Almost on a daily basis we are looking back on a patient's images to see how something looked in the past. Seeing what changes, if any, have occurred is extremely valuable in diagnosing a current condition.
Knowledge is power. Having a Comprehensive Dental Evaluation will give you the knowledge so that you have the power to prevent small problems for progressing and ultimately allows you to have the dental health that you desire.
If you haven't been to the dentist in a while - and you know its time to get your oral health back on track - I invite you to come in and visit us by calling us at 480.998.8073 or on the web at AccuCareDental.com. We are accepting new patients, accept most dental plans and we'd love the chance to make you smile too.