Free Issue! Try Saltscapes Magazine before you buy. Download Now

What’s your dentist actually doing in there? Test your knowledge of the dental exam and discover what important information your mouth holds about your oral health and your overall health.

1. Why does my dentist conduct a dental exam?

  1. To identify changes in your mouth
  2. To identify and diagnose problems before they become more serious
  3. To help guide you on ways to prevent dental disease
  4. To look for loose change

2. I worry about radiation. Does the dentist really need to do X-rays every visit?

  1. Yes – at least one at each dental exam
  2. Not always – X-rays are used to obtain specific information that can contribute to a diagnosis or a treatment plan
  3. Not always – if your teeth and mouth are healthy, a visual exam may be enough

3. What should I tell my dentist about?

  1. Any physical changes, such as pregnancy, allergies, or illnesses
  2. Any new medications you're taking
  3. Any problems in your mouth, such as pain, loose teeth or bleeding gums
  4. Any surgeries
  5. All of the above – and more

4. Why does my dentist need to know what medications I'm taking?

  1. Because dentists are inquisitive; it's a trait they pick up in dental school
  2. Because some prescription drugs will stop freezing from taking effect
  3. Because drug side effects can include dry mouth and overgrown gums
  4. Because drug side effects can include loose teeth

5. What's the dentist looking for in my mouth that I can't see on my own?

  1. Early signs of cavities
  2. Early signs of systemic diseases such as diabetes
  3. Gold fillings, which may be worth money
  4. Signs that you clench or grind your teeth
  5. Bite, alignment, gum health and oral cancer

6. What parts of my mouth or body will the dentist check?

  1. All parts of your mouth: roof, floor, tongue, teeth, gums
  2. The glands and lymph nodes in your neck area
  3. Your fingernails, because the same deficiencies can affect both teeth and nails
  4. Your teeth and gums only

7. Dental exams can detect early signs of cancer. True or False?

8. My dental exam shows that I've been grinding my teeth. Should I be concerned?

  1. Yes – it can give you headaches and a sore jaw
  2. Yes – it can lead to tooth loss
  3. Yes – it can lead to hearing loss
  4. All of the above

9. People with dentures no longer need dental exams. True or false?

10. Fill in the blank: Regular dental exams will _______ me money.


1. Answer: a), b), and c) - Your dentist is the doctor of your mouth. In conjunction with self-care and a healthy lifestyle, a regular dental examination is a critical component to maintain good dental health.

2. Answer: b), and c) - X-rays are sometimes needed because they can show problems such as cavities under existing fillings, fractures, impacted wisdom teeth, decay under your gum line, and bone loss caused by gum disease.

3. Answer: e) - all of the above – and more - Knowing about your overall health helps your dentist better meet your oral health needs. You should also mention any increased sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweets, and any tightness in your neck or jaw muscles.

4. Answer: c) - because drug side effects can include dry mouth and overgrown gums. - Knowing about your prescriptions can save your dentist from looking unnecessarily for other causes. A discussion about medication is also linked to another important discussion: health issues and if these can affect treatment options.

5. Answer: a), b), d) and e) - Your dentist is looking for all of these and more – a long and wide-ranging list of signs and symptoms that can indicate problems now and down the road.

6. Answer: a) and sometimes b) - Your dentist will always check all parts of your mouth, and sometimes your neck area, too. Feeling the glands and lymph nodes in your neck area can alert the dentist to signs of inflammation relating to your overall health.

7. Answer: True - Your dentist can detect early signs of mouth or throat cancer such as white lesions or blocked salivary glands.

8. Answer: d) all of the above - This is another example of how oral health problems are linked to other health problems. It's treatable; your dentist can help.

9. Answer: False - As you get older, you're more likely to develop lesions in your mouth – sometimes from oral cancer – so it's important to have regular exams. Also, your dentures may need to be replaced or adjusted.

10. Answer: Save - Dental exams save you money in the long term by catching problems early when they're often easier, less painful, less stressful, and less expensive to correct.

Other Stories You May Enjoy

Getting the Goods on Gluten

After a few decades of demonizing fatty foods, diet-conscious North Americans have identified gluten as the new enemy, blaming it for everything from skin rashes and acid reflux to autoimmune...

Make Lifestyle Changes the Goal

And the weight loss will happen. The Canadian weight loss industry is racking up a whopping $7 billion annually and growing at six per cent a year. Unfortunately, our waistlines are following a...

Eye Exam

The all-important regular eye exam (but what's regular?)