Blog Hero

What Is A Dental Recall Exam?

Book an Appointment
A female dentist examining a female dental patient's teeth with tools

What to Expect: Dental Recall Exams

Much like a doctor’s visit, there are multiple types of dentistry visits. Whether you’re having a routine checkup or a dental emergency, the type of dental exam is determined by your health needs. 

Most patients are familiar with a regular dental exam and cleaning, but you may not be familiar with another name: a dental recall exam.

Types of Dental Exams

Your next visit to the dentist may be one of these general types of dental exams:

  • Comprehensive dental exam
  • Emergency dental exams
  • Recall dental exam

There are also dental exams for specific oral health problems. For example, you may have an exam for a broken tooth. While examining your tooth injury, any tests or x-rays wouldn’t evaluate other areas of your mouth or jaw.

Additionally, you may also book an exam to assess your oral health before an oral surgery or dental procedure.

Comprehensive Dental Exams

Comprehensive dental exams are a thorough assessment of your overall oral health. The dentist conducts a series of checks for your teeth, gums, and jaw. Also, the comprehensive exam is when you complete x-rays to provide an up-to-date deeper look at your teeth.

How often you need a comprehensive exam is individual. Still, most dentists try to limit patient exposure to x-ray radiation with a thorough exam every 2 years.

Emergency Dental Exams

An emergency dental exam occurs if you experience a dental emergency. Typically, you will book an emergency dental care appointment after a sudden change to your oral health. For example, if you lose a tooth, bite your tongue or lips, chip a tooth, or have a toothache.

A male dental patient receiving a dental cleaning from a female dental hygienist

What Is A Recall Exam?

The most common visit to the dentist is a dental recall exam. Also referred to as a regular dental exam, it’s the equivalent of a yearly checkup with your family doctor. However, dentists recommend recall exams every 6 months.

Dental recall exams help your dentist monitor your oral health. Although most dental problems build up over time, a regular visit to your dentist is a way to watch for developing dental issues or double-check any concerning spots.

The noted areas may not develop into a problem after a first recall or even a second. Instead, regularly monitoring your oral health reduces the risk of overlooking a minor issue that may worsen over time. It’s also a chance for your dentist to give some advanced warning if there’s something you can do at home to help.

Recall Exams Every 6 Months

How often you need a dental exam will depend on your unique oral health. A yearly dental exam is enough for some patients to protect their oral health. In contrast, others should schedule recall exams twice a year.

You may also want to book a recall exam according to your insurance coverage. For example, some providers cover visits every 9–12 months. 

Additionally, your dentist may recommend a different timeline after knowing your oral care routine and evaluating your oral health. For example, if you have symptoms of tooth decay, your dentist may recommend a recall exam in 3 months.

What Happens During A Recall Exam

Most recall exams begin with routine dental cleaning. First, you’ll be given eye protection and a paper or plastic cloth to wear over your chest. Then, the cleaning and exam begin.

  1. A dental hygienist will use various tools to clean each tooth individually.
  2. The hygienist will thoroughly floss between each tooth. 
  3. The hygienist may apply fluoride, typically gel or foam. 
  4. The hygienist polishes your teeth. 
  5. Finally, the hygienist will invite the dentist to complete a dental exam.

During their exam, the dentist checks your teeth and gums. If the hygienist noted any concerns, the dentist will double-check the problem and make recommendations.

Preparing for Your Next Recall Exam

You are likely already familiar with the basics of maintaining your dental hygiene. But besides adding brushing and flossing to your daily to-do list, how else can you make your dental recall visits easier?

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends some helpful prevention tips:

  • Brush twice daily
  • Floss (at least once) daily
  • Limit sugary drinks and foods
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products
  • Schedule recall exams as recommended by your dentist

Protecting your oral health is a team effort. Working with your dentist can prevent common oral problems like tooth decay and gum disease.

Book Your Dental Recall Exam

Regular dental exams are crucial for maintaining your oral health and protecting your smile. At Symmetry Dental, we know good oral hygiene is a partnership. By scheduling a routine checkup with our Calgary dentist, we can work with you to protect your teeth and overall health. Book an appointment with us for oral care that exceeds expectations.

Dental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, and regular dental checkups are essential to maintain a healthy smile. While most people are familiar with routine dental exams and cleanings, there’s another important type of dental visit known as a dental recall exam. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the significance of dental recall exams, what they entail, and why they are a vital part of your oral healthcare routine. I. The Basics of Dental Checkups Before delving into dental recall exams, let’s briefly explore the foundation of regular dental checkups. These visits are typically recommended every six months, but the frequency may vary based on your oral health needs. A standard dental checkup usually includes the following components: Oral Examination: The dentist examines your mouth for any visible issues like cavities, gum disease, or signs of oral cancer. X-Rays: These are taken periodically to detect issues that may not be visible during a visual examination, such as hidden cavities or problems below the gumline. Professional Cleaning: A dental hygienist cleans your teeth, removing plaque and tartar buildup, and provides guidance on maintaining good oral hygiene practices. Oral Health Discussion: You have the opportunity to discuss any concerns or problems you may be experiencing with your dentist. They can provide advice on proper brushing and flossing techniques and may recommend treatments, if necessary. II. Understanding Dental Recall Exams A dental recall exam, also known as a recall visit, recall appointment, or recall examination, is a follow-up visit scheduled by your dentist after your routine dental checkup. These recall exams serve several crucial purposes in maintaining your oral health. Monitoring Oral Health: Dental recall exams are essential for monitoring the status of your oral health. By scheduling regular follow-up appointments, your dentist can keep a close eye on any issues that were identified during your initial checkup, such as cavities or gum disease. Preventing Dental Problems: Recall exams play a significant role in preventing dental problems from worsening. By addressing issues promptly, your dentist can prevent them from becoming more severe or leading to complications. Tailored Treatment Plans: If you have ongoing dental concerns or a treatment plan, recall exams provide an opportunity to track your progress. The dentist can adjust your treatment plan if needed and provide personalized guidance to help you maintain or improve your oral health. Educational Opportunity: Recall exams offer a platform for education. Dentists can provide further guidance on proper oral hygiene, dietary habits, and lifestyle changes that can positively impact your dental health. III. The Importance of Dental Recall Exams Now that we’ve explored the purpose of dental recall exams, let’s delve into their significance in maintaining optimal oral health. Preventive Care: Dental recall exams are the cornerstone of preventive dental care. By addressing issues early, you can prevent more extensive and costly treatments down the road. Regular follow-ups help identify problems in their infancy, allowing for timely intervention. Individualized Care: Each person’s oral health is unique, and dental recall exams enable dentists to tailor care to your specific needs. Whether you require more frequent cleanings or specialized treatments, recall exams ensure your dental care plan is customized to your situation. Long-Term Planning: For individuals with chronic conditions or complex treatment plans, recall exams are essential for long-term planning. Your dentist can track your progress and make adjustments to your treatment plan as necessary, ensuring the best outcomes. Preventing Emergency Situations: By catching dental issues early through recall exams, you can avoid dental emergencies that result in pain, discomfort, and costly treatments. Preventive care is always more comfortable and less expensive than dealing with dental emergencies. Maintaining a Healthy Smile: Ultimately, dental recall exams are a key element in helping you maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. Regular visits not only prevent problems but also ensure that your teeth and gums remain in their best possible condition. IV. What to Expect During a Dental Recall Exam Dental recall exams typically share many components with routine dental checkups, but they focus on specific areas of concern identified during previous visits or in your oral health history. Here’s what you can expect during a dental recall exam: Review of Your Dental History: Your dentist will review your dental history to understand any ongoing issues, past treatments, or areas of concern. Oral Examination: Your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums, and oral tissues, paying particular attention to the areas of concern. X-Rays: If necessary, your dentist may take updated X-rays to assess the status of any dental issues below the surface. Discussion: You’ll have the opportunity to discuss any problems or questions you have regarding your oral health. This is a great time to share any changes or issues you may have noticed since your last visit. Treatment Planning: Based on the examination and discussion, your dentist will develop or update your treatment plan. This may include scheduling additional treatments, adjusting your oral hygiene routine, or recommending lifestyle changes. Oral Hygiene Guidance: Your dentist or dental hygienist will provide guidance on maintaining good oral hygiene practices. They may recommend specific products or techniques to address your oral health needs. V. The Frequency of Dental Recall Exams The frequency of dental recall exams can vary depending on your individual oral health needs. For some individuals, a recall exam may be scheduled every three months, while others may have them every six months or annually. The decision is made by your dentist based on factors such as your oral health history, the presence of ongoing dental concerns, and the effectiveness of previous treatments. Here are some factors that may influence the frequency of your recall exams: Periodontal Disease: Individuals with gum disease (periodontal disease) often require more frequent recall exams to manage and monitor the condition. Cavities and Restorations: If you have a history of cavities or restorative dental work, more frequent recall exams may be necessary to ensure the integrity of these restorations and prevent new cavities. Chronic Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders, can impact oral health. If you have a chronic condition, your dentist may recommend more frequent recall exams. Treatments in Progress: If you’re undergoing ongoing dental treatments, such as orthodontic work or dental implants, you may require more frequent recall visits to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments. Oral Hygiene Habits: If you’re struggling with maintaining good oral hygiene practices, your dentist may recommend more frequent recall exams to provide guidance and support. It’s essential to follow your dentist’s recommendations for recall exam frequency to ensure that you’re receiving the appropriate level of care for your oral health needs. VI. Benefits of Dental Recall Exams Dental recall exams offer a range of benefits that contribute to your overall well-being. Here are some of the advantages of scheduling and attending these crucial follow-up appointments: Early Problem Detection: Recall exams help detect dental issues in their early stages, allowing for less invasive and more cost-effective treatments. Prevention of Complications: By addressing problems promptly, you can prevent complications that could lead to pain, discomfort, and the need for extensive dental work. Personalized Care:
Dr. Saleema Adatia, Calgary dentist

Written by Dr. Saleema Adatia

Dr. Saleema Adatia earned her Doctorate of Dental Medicine (DMD) from Tufts University in 2006. Since then, she’s been committed to serving her patients’ needs with the utmost passion. Dr. Adatia has owned and operated Symmetry Dental since 2013 and has integrated high-quality services with friendly care into the philosophy of the practice.

With a goal of providing the best patient care possible, Dr. Adatia ensures that her practice stays up to date with the latest dental technologies and techniques. Her personal passion for dentistry stems from a desire to create a positive impact on each patient’s quality of life. Whether that means treating people’s pain or restoring function and beauty to their smiles, the goal is always the same: to help make patient’s lives just a little bit better by working together in harmony.

More Articles By Dr. Saleema Adatia
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax