Thorough patient care is incredibly important to us, and that’s why at Modern Family Dentists, we leave no stone unturned when conducting your Comprehensive Exam. Many dentists will do everything by the book – which is fine, of course – but we go beyond the call of duty to ensure we can provide the most thorough and personalized treatment plan best suited to your needs. But what is a Comprehensive Exam, and what does it involve exactly?

Read on to discover everything you need to know about your Comprehensive Exam.

Who is a Comprehensive Exam performed by?

When you’re in need of a full, thorough and comprehensive examination of your oral health, your Comprehensive Exam will be performed by your General Dentist, and/or a specialist, if necessary.

Who needs a Comprehensive Exam?

While you can request a full examination whenever you want, the Comprehensive Exam usually applies to patients in the following areas:


  • New Patients – whenever a new patient joins our practice, we will conduct a Comprehensive Exam to determine their current oral health status and identify any issues that need to be addressed. We can then develop a personalized treatment plan to provide the very best care possible.


  • Existing Patients – this can be broken down into 2 categories:


    • Existing patients who have had major changes in their overall oral or general health, or any particularly unusual circumstances.
    • Existing patients who have not received any form of treatment or routine checkup for more than 3 years – this is so we can establish if their oral needs have changed and allows us to redevelop a personalized treatment plan.

As you can see, we like to ensure each one of our patients is given the most in-depth, thorough, and comprehensive oral care we can provide. A Comprehensive Exam allows us to ensure we can develop the very best treatment plan our patients deserve.

What does a Comprehensive Exam involve?

When you come in for your Comprehensive Exam, we will thoroughly evaluate and record all aspects of your extraoral (outside the mouth) and intraoral (inside the mouth) soft and hard tissues. In other words, we will fully examine your head, neck, temples, jaw, lips, cheeks, tongue, tonsils, gums, and of course – your teeth.

Sometimes it’s necessary for us to make some additional diagnostic procedures and interpret the information we gathered from them. If this is needed, we will then report this information separately to your main exam.

What does a Comprehensive Exam include?

We want the very best for our patients, so our Comprehensive Exam is exactly that – incredibly comprehensive. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect during your exam:


  • Introduction


Your dentist will meet you in our waiting area (where we encourage you to take advantage of our Patient Comfort Menu), introduce themselves, and ask a few questions to get to know you a bit better.


  • Getting to know your needs


We’ll ask you why you came to us for treatment, what you expect from your treatment, and the kind of dental work you’d like to have done.


  • Your medical history


We will obtain a detailed history of your health, including any medications you are currently taking, and any past and current medical conditions you may have. We’ll then take and record your blood pressure and pulse. These steps are incredibly important, as certain conditions such as joint replacements and various heart conditions can affect your oral care treatment. It’s also necessary because we need to ensure there aren’t any systemic issues that could affect the dental treatment we provide.


  • Dietary survey


You will be asked to complete a dietary survey – this is so we can determine whether your diet puts you at high risk of developing cavities. While many factors can contribute to the development of cavities, diet is the most important factor of all.


  • Risk factors


We will then complete a risk factors assessment that informs us of your potential risk for developing certain diseases – for example, periodontal disease or oral cancer. It also allows us to determine your risk for fracturing, damaging, or knocking out a tooth based on your general lifestyle. We’ll also determine any dental phobia you may have – something we take very seriously at Modern Family Dentists.


  • Head and neck examination


Once your medical, dietary and risk factors have been noted, we will perform a head and neck exam. We’ll feel your neck for any enlarged lymph nodes or suspicious bumps or lumps that may be cancerous. We then feel your temporomandibular jaw area to see of you have any obvious or underlying jaw problems, and note any clicking or popping of your jaw.


  • Intraoral soft tissue exam


We will then begin to thoroughly inspect every area inside your mouth, including:

  • Lips
  • Cheeks
  • Gums
  • Roof of your mouth
  • Every side of your tongue
  • Under your tongue
  • The back of your mouth
  • The throat and tonsil area


Your tonsils can indicate if your body is currently fighting off an infection, and can sometimes cause bad breath if a tonsillolith (tonsil stone) is present.

This is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of your Comprehensive Exam, as this stage is when many forms of oral cancer are found, if present. Lack of attentiveness can lead to the early stages of oral cancer being missed, which reduces the chances of beating it. If we discover anything suspicious, we will take a biopsy (small tissue sample) to be checked, and if necessary, refer you to an oral pathologist.


  • Periodontal health


The next step of your Comprehensive Exam is periodontal probing. This involves putting a small instrument between your teeth and gums to check your gum health. We’ll then measure the space between the top of your gums and the area where your gums are attached to your teeth. If this space is too deep, you will not be able to clean it sufficiently, and could indicate periodontal disease – the leading factor in tooth loss in the over 30’s. If periodontal disease is found, we will recommend having a deep dental cleaning – known as scaling and root planing.


  • Hard tissue exam


After checking your gums, we will then begin to examine your teeth. This involves inspecting every side of your teeth and noting any of your existing fillings, crowns, implants, cavities, root canals, fractures, and any issues with your bite. We’ll then inspect your dental work to ensure it’s all still in good order. X-rays may be necessary depending on the health of your teeth.

If you require any crowns, dentures or dental implants, we will take a dental impression during your Comprehensive Exam so we can evaluate your bite. This ensures there aren’t any issues with the way your teeth come together when the work has been completed.

What happens after my Comprehensive Exam?

Once we have completed your Comprehensive Exam, we will thoroughly analyze all of our recordings and use the findings to develop your personalized treatment plan. We will fully understand your current oral and general health, your needs and risks, and use that information to help us provide the very best dental care possible for you.