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What Is A Dental Recall Exam?

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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.

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.

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