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What Is a Dental Recall Exam – What to Expect

Are you wondering what a dental recall exam is? Then you’ve come to the right place, and no, the answer isn’t as intimidating as it may sound.

The term dental recall exam may sound unfamiliar, but you may be surprised to hear that this procedure is more common than you think. You’ve probably already had several of these examinations without knowing it.

Keep reading to learn what a dental recall exam is, how often you should get one done, and what to expect for your next one.

What Is a Dental Recall Exam?

Let’s jump straight into what exactly is a dental recall exam – or as we like to call them, continuous care appointments.

The good news is that a dental recall exam sounds more complicated than it is. If you go to the dentist regularly, chances are you may have already had several dental recall exams.

A dental recall exam is what dentists refer to as a regular dental checkup. They should happen periodically, typically after your usual teeth cleaning with a dental hygienist, during the same appointment, which is why you’ve most likely experienced several dental recall exams in your life.

Your entire dental appointment consisting of a cleaning with a dental hygienist and a recall exam generally lasts between 45 and 60 minutes. However, several factors affect the length of the exam, including:

  • Your age (children’s exams tend to be shorter)
  • Your dental health
  • The frequency of your dental visits

Let’s walk through what you can expect during a dental recall exam.

young male dentist looking into dental x-ray in his clinic

What Does a Dental Recall Exam Involve?

An important part of explaining what a dental recall exam is is specifically what this dental exam involves.

After your regular teeth cleaning, your dentist will come to inspect your mouth – which is what is referred to as a dental recall exam. Here’s what to expect from this dental exam.

Examination of your gums and teeth

The main component of the dental recall exam is the examination of your gums and teeth to get an overview of your general oral health.

Your dentist looks closely at your teeth and gums to note any changes that may have occurred since your last visit. They may choose to be more in-depth with their examination, depending on what they find with an updated X-ray. Every few years, you can expect a comprehensive oral exam that’s more extensive than a regular one, in which you get new full mouth X-rays, in-depth cancer screening, a TMJ exam, and more.

Screen for certain diseases

If you experience any pain in your mouth — no matter how severe or mild it may be — your dental recall exam is the time to express this to your dentist, as a major part of the exam is screening for issues. Pain, discomfort, or sensitivity may be an early sign of a more serious problem within your mouth.

In addition to the usual discoloration, gingivitis, and cavities, your dentist will screen for other diseases and issues during your dental recall exam, including:

  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease or periodontal disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Bone loss
  • Periodontal decay

This time is also when your dentist may ask you about other underlying medical conditions you may have developed since your last visit, which could affect your oral health and treatment options.

Answer Any Questions You May Have

At the end of your dental recall exam, your dentist will open the floor to answer any questions that you may have about your dental health.

Don’t be afraid to ask further questions about the state of your mouth or to bring up any concerns you may have about your oral health. It’s better to be proactive than reactive!

How Often Do You Need a Dental Recall Exam?

A dental recall exam isn’t a one-time occurrence. Not only is it important to know what a dental recall exam is, but you also need to understand how often you need to get one.

Typically, you should get a dental recall exam done every 6 months. However, the frequency you get examined largely depends on you and what your dentist recommends.

Some people choose to be examined more frequently, such as every 3 to 4 months, while some choose to go less frequently. However, you should go no more than one year between exams.

That said, if you experience any problem with your teeth, whether it be pain, discomfort, or breakage, you shouldn’t wait for your next dental recall exam to bring it up to your dentist. Call their office right away to schedule an appointment to get your mouth checked out in case it is the early signs of a more serious matter.

male dentist using dental instruments in his clinic

Schedule Your Next Dental Recall Exam

Now that you know the answer to “what is a dental recall exam” and what to expect from one, hopefully, the process sounds less intimidating!

A dental recall exam is a vital part of maintaining good oral health and minimizing potential problems that may arise. Therefore, make sure you never skip your regular dental exams.

If you’re due for your next dental recall exam, You Make Me Smile has got you covered. Book your free consultation today.