Cleanings & Fluoride Treatments in Los Angeles
What is a Dental (Oral) Exam?
An oral exam is the process used by our dentist to carefully review your child’s oral health. Oral exams typically involve the entire mouth, as a component of a first-time visit or a regular 6-month check-up. Oral exams can also be used to identify a specific issue in one particular area of the mouth, such as pain, swelling, broken teeth, or other dental problems.
What are the steps of an Oral Exam?
There are four main categories of oral exams:
- Comprehensive Oral Evaluation: A comprehensive oral exam is needed for patients who are seeing a new dentist for a checkup for the first time, or if it has been some time since the last visit. We need to take comprehensive x-ray as best of our technician’s ability since not all kids are cooperative enough to take x-rays.
- Regular (Periodic) Oral Evaluation: Regular exams are a part of the 6-month dental check-up process. A periodic oral exam is a complete update of already existing information for established patients who regularly visit the office. We routinely take 2 bitewing and 6 periapical x-rays to diagnose new cavities and see if there’s any changes in the area where it can’t be seen visually (ex. Adult tooth eruption and location on kids who still have baby teeth)
- Limited Oral Evaluation: this type of exam is also known as “problem focused.” It is used to identify and diagnose symptoms such as dental pain, or swelling in a particular area of the mouth. Limited exams may involve digital X-rays of the affected area and diagnostic reading by our dentist, as well as a visual evaluation. Your dentist will ask questions relating to your child’s symptoms.
- Follow-Up Evaluation: Our dentist may ask you to come back for a follow-up visit to check on the healing and progress for certain types of treatment provided, or if your child has gotten into accident and want you to bring your child for further evaluation.
We recommend that parents bring their children for oral exams beginning at 6-9 months when first tooth erupts, and every 6 months after that. Bringing your child early and regularly is an important way to establish your child’s confidence and comfort during regular dental visits, and create a positive relationship with the dentist and staff. It is also to prevent future cavities and problems like baby bottle syndrome that is routine to the child.
About Dental X-Rays
Dental X-rays are a critical part of the diagnostic process for oral health. There are several types of X-rays that may be required for your visit. Here are the main categories of X-rays:
- Full Mouth Series: Also known as a “full set” of X-rays, a full mouth series is typically associated with a comprehensive oral exam. This series of X-rays captures the entire mouth and is used to establish an original or baseline oral health and history. A full mouth set of X-rays is a combination of “bitewing” and “periapical,” or “PA” X-rays.
- Bitewing X-Rays: These X-rays show the upper and lower back teeth in a single view. This allows the dentist to see how they touch each other and line up. This type of x-ray also allows your dentist to see any decay, bone loss, gum disease, or possible infection.
- Periapical X-Rays: show the entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and the bones that support the tooth. These X-rays are used to find dental problems below the gum line or in the jaw, such as impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes linked to some diseases.
- Panoramic X-Ray: Also referred to as a “pano” or “panoramic,” this type of x-ray is typically used for specific types of treatment or diagnostics. A panoramic x-ray shows the entire mouth including jaws, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and temporomandibular (TMJ) joint, in one image. Panoramic X-rays are often associated with diagnosing wisdom tooth issues, orthodontic consultations, implant and oral surgery consultations, or may be recommended by the dentist if there is an issue preventing a standard bitewing or periapical x-ray.
Our x-ray equipment is fully digital at all Children Dental World locations, which means that any radiation associated with these images is lower than with conventional (film) X-rays. Humans are exposed to radiation of varying types and degrees during their lifetime – from airport and security screens, to sunshine, to home appliances. Dental X-rays, when combined with our protective measures such as lead shielding, involve an extremely minimal exposure to radiation. If you are concerned about dental X-rays, we encourage you to speak with your dentist for more information.
Oral Exams & Dental X-Rays for Women Who Are Pregnant
If you are pregnant, it is important to let our dentist and staff know at the beginning of the visit, and discuss any potential questions or concerns. We recommend you to bring medical clearance note from your OB (obstetrician) doctor.
Intra Oral Pictures
For all Denti-cal patients and some PPO Insurance patients, we are required to take Intra Oral pictures on cavities and conditions that are not being depicted or hard to be seen from dental x-ray. Intra oral picture is taken with very sophisticated intra oral camera and is safe to your children.
Cost and Insurance Coverage for Oral Exams and Dental X-Rays
The cost of oral exams and X-rays vary and depend on multiple factors including frequency and type of x-ray needed. Your dentist will review with you what type and frequency of X-rays and exams are needed to maintain your optimal oral health.
If you have PPO dental insurance, your coverage often includes preventative care including regular exams and X-rays. It is important to stay up to date with your insurance coverage. Our staffs are happy to review your coverage with you to ensure you are maximizing your insurance benefits while minimizing any out of pocket expenses. With denti-cal, x-rays are covered up to 20 x-rays per year, and full mouth x-ray covered once every five years. Oral exams are covered once every six months and a day after. If you are new patient, comprehensive exam is covered.
Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Checkups and X-Rays
Can I refuse to have dental X-rays for my child?
Yes. As a parent/legal guardian, you are the guardian of your child and you are fully in control over your child’s oral health. However, if you are concerned about the necessity or safety of any dental X-rays that are recommended, we strongly suggest reviewing your concerns with our dentist. X-rays are a critical component of the diagnostic process and oral evaluation. In some cases and for all Denti-cal patients, our dentist may not be able to proceed without X-rays, and will discuss this with you to review next steps.
On my child, why are you taking so many x-rays?
If you have a denti-cal, the guideline is very strict with any kind of dental treatment that we need to provide for your child. We need perfect x-ray of the tooth: it must be visible, without any overlapping, cutting of the tooth, and blurriness (blurriness happens when your kid moves during the x-ray). If our x-ray technicians and doctors feel that we can’t take good x-rays after few tries, we will let you know what your options will be. If you have private/PPO insurances or is a private patients, only reason why our dentist wants your x-ray is to make sure we are diagnosing right and have a proof on our treatment.
Can I have copy of my x-rays and chart?
Yes, we are the custodian of your child’s dental record. Due to a time that our staff has to make a copy, fill out a chart request form and pay minimal fee of $15.00 per record and x-rays. Your child’s record should be ready in 3 business days. If your child hasn’t been in our office for more than 2 years, we need to retrieve it from the storage. It will take up to 5 days.
If I have Denti-cal, can I have my daughter’s check up more frequently?
If your child is from 1-6 years old and is prone to cavities as diagnosed by our dentist, Denti-cal allow you to bring your child every 3 months or 4 months. Ask our dentist about it. However, anybody over 7 to 21 has to wait 6 months and 1 day to come in for check up. If you are your child is over 21, it’s once per year.