Diagnostic and Preventive

Like everything else in life, if you want something to look good and last, you have to take care of it. Just as you change the oil in your car, you need to provide your mouth with the same care and maintenance. We recommend and provide ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy by having patients attend regular dentist visits and teaching effective ways to brush and floss in order to avoid problems.

Comprehensive Oral Evaluation

One of the first things that your dentist or specialist will do when you walk into his office will be to conduct what is called a comprehensive oral evaluation. This evaluation gives your dentist a complete picture of your oral health. Due to the unique connection between the mouth and the rest of your body, it also gives dental providers a glimpse of what is happening with your overall health.  Ideally, If you are a new patient, you should receive this evaluation.  If you have been a patient in the office for years but you’ve not had any active treatment in three or more years, you also are due for a comprehensive exam.

The exam has three major segments. They include:

  1. Medical History Review: Part of a comprehensive oral evaluation is the review of your medical history. This alerts your dental provider to any underlying medical conditions.
  2. Your Head and Neck: Your provider examines extra-oral tissues. This includes areas of your head and neck. Your dentist will search for any abnormalities, tenderness, inflammation, or pain.
  3. Your Mouth: An examination of your mouth (which includes taking x-rays) clearly indicates what’s going on with your dental health. It is rich with evidence, showing cavities, gum disease, defective restorations, oral cancer, and more.  The areas of the mouth examined include: 
    • Teeth
    • Lips
    • Saliva
    • Scars
    • Inside of Cheeks
    • Hard and soft palate
    • Throat
    • Tongue
    • Floor of the mouth
    • Gums

An oral examination can actually detect things that may be wrong with your body. As the eye is the window to the soul, the mouth is to the body. Here are some health conditions or diseases that can be noticed from your mouth via oral examination and that affect or are affected by your oral health:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Premature birth or low birth weight
  • Blood pressure
  • Leukemia
  • Immune system abnormalities
  • Sinus problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease 

Dr. Reimers will conduct a thorough exam, which includes checking for gum disease and oral cancer. He will also examine your teeth and make note of existing restorations, root canals, cavities, and fractures, and check your teeth for deterioration due to abnormal bite, teeth grinding or TMJ. If X-rays were taken, he will look for additional signs of decay or damage and administer the best course of action and treatment.

Cleaning

Many people see the mouth as separate from the rest of their body. But the reality is that it’s all connected, and problems in your mouth can cause or even act as an indicator of disease in other parts of your body, including dementia and heart disease. Teeth cleanings are an essential part of keeping your mouth and the rest of your body disease-free. Teeth cleaning is part of oral hygiene and involves the removal of dental plaque from teeth with the intention of preventing cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, and periodontal disease. People routinely clean their own teeth by brushing and interdental cleaning, and dental hygienists can remove hardened deposits (tartar) not removed by routine cleaning.

Fluoride Treatment

Another key to good oral health is fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent caries and can repair teeth in the very early, microscopic stages of the disease. Fluoride can be obtained in two forms: topical and systemic.

  • Topical fluorides: This type of fluoride is applied directly to the tooth enamel. Topical fluoride strengthens the teeth once they have erupted by seeping into the outer surface of the tooth enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay.  We gain topical fluoride by using fluoride containing dental products such as toothpaste, mouth rinses, and gels.  Dentists and dental hygienists generally recommend that children have a professional application of fluoride twice a year during dental check-ups.
  • Systemic fluoride: This type of fluoride strengthens the teeth that have erupted as well as those that are developing under the gums.  We gain systemic fluoride from most foods and our community water supplies.  It is also available as a supplement in drop or gel form and can be prescribed by your dentist or physician. 

Although most people receive fluoride from food and water, sometimes it is not enough to help prevent decay.  Your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend the use of home and/or professional fluoride treatments for the following reasons:

  • Deep pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth.
  • Exposed and sensitive root surfaces.
  • Fair to poor oral hygiene habits.
  • Frequent sugar and carbohydrate intake.
  • Inadequate exposure to fluorides.
  • Inadequate saliva flow due to medical conditions, medical treatments or medications.
  • Recent history of dental decay.

Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer screening is an examination performed by your dentist to look for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions in your mouth. The goal of oral cancer screening is to identify mouth cancer early, when there is a greater chance for a cure. Most dentists perform an examination of your mouth during a routine dental visit to screen for oral cancer. Some dentists may use additional tests to aid in identifying areas of abnormal cells in your mouth.

No single oral exam or oral cancer screening test is proven to reduce the risk of dying of oral cancer. Still, you and your dentist may decide that an oral exam or a special test is right for you based on your risk factors.

With a five-year survival rate as low as 60 percent, oral cancer is scary. It is a devastating disease, but you can boost your chances of survival by at least 20 percent when the disease is caught early. Protect yourself by getting checked for the disease today.

X-rays

X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventive, by helping a dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem. An X-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays, while X-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks.

X-rays are divided into two main categories, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray that is taken inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth.

Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of radiograph taken in dentistry. They give a high level of detail of the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth. X-rays allow your dentist to:

  • Find cavities
  • Look at the tooth roots
  • Check the health of the bony area around the tooth
  • Determine if periodontal disease is an oral care issue
  • See the status of developing teeth
  • Otherwise, monitor good tooth health through prevention

Diagnostic Photographs

Treatment planning starts with a complete examination and complete diagnosis. Diagnostic records should be taken as part of a complete examination. This includes digital photographs. Dental photographs will allow your dentist to see your teeth from an interior and exterior point of view. Before and after shots will be taken to show the progress along the way.

Sealant

Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it’s not always easy to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth, especially those back teeth you use to chew, called molars. Molars are rough, uneven and a favorite place for leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria to hide.

Still, there’s another safety net to help keep those teeth clean. It’s called a sealant; a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth. Sealants are no substitute for brushing and flossing, but they can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity. Sealing these teeth as soon as they come through can keep them cavity-free from the start, which helps save time and money in the long run. Ask your dentist if sealants are a good option for you and your family.

Periodontal Screening

Your dentist and dental hygienist are trained to help you maintain a healthy mouth and teeth, and they are always monitoring your mouth for signs of the onset of gum disease. By routine, usually once a year, they will perform a gum evaluation called a periodontal screening.

A periodontal examination and probing are used to assess the health of your gums and teeth. They will help to diagnose gum disease (gingivitis) and determine appropriate treatment. During this screening, they are assessing the health of your supporting gum and bone structures and evaluating the look of your gums.

Healthy gums are pink and firm. Unhealthy gums are red, swollen, spongy-looking and may bleed. They also look for signs of gum loss (recession) and use a tiny instrument called a probe to measure the depths of the pockets between the teeth and gums. The pocket is a free space located around each tooth and in between teeth where your floss enters for cleaning.

Based on the periodontal screening and evaluation of your current X-rays the doctor will then diagnose whether or not periodontal disease is present and what treatment would subsequently be needed.

Occlusion Analysis

There is often need to evaluate the occlusion (bite) of a patient when there are symptoms consistent with a bite that is unstable. Symptoms include temporomandibular joint pain and clicking, loose teeth, excessive wear on teeth, movement of teeth, and supporting structures that are unstable.  We know there are many occlusions (bites) that are not perfect and can be maintained in good health and stability and can be completely comfortable, so before any definitive treatment is initiated, it is important to determine if an occlusion is stable or unstable regardless of what it looks like.

The process of analyzing the occlusion for stability starts with the TMJ seated in its proper position.  Once this is accomplished the process of determining if the occlusion is not in balance is next. Sometimes casts are made of the patient’s teeth and studied for problems.  Sometimes dentists use a computerized diagnostic device, called the T-Scan, to record a patient’s bite force, enabling them to determine a patient’s bite dynamics that include occlusal force, timing and location. The T-Scan is built with patented sensor technology that puts articulating marks in the mouth into context by showing the dentist where and how occlusal forces occur in a patient’s bite. Once the dentist determines the patient's bite, the proper treatment will be administered. 

If you are interested in our diagnostic and preventive services call Dr. Reimers at (409) 892-2517 to learn how we can help you enjoy exceptional dental care to attain and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. Or you may request an appointment online.

Patient Education

Visit our interactive patient education guide to learn about the conditions we treat.

Learn More