Having an examination is very important. Many signs of early detection can be noted and monitored at these exams. When a cavity is in the early stages (just in the enamel layer) of the tooth you can inform a patient of its location in the mouth and with improved home care (brushing and flossing) the enamel can remineralize. Remineralization is the process where the enamel rods absorb fluoride, in essence the decay is fixed. The health professional will guide you to using the proper methods of home care and products.
If decay has spread to the next layer of the tooth, this is the dentin layer then the decay must be removed. The dentin layer is soft and bacteria love it. Patients can be unaware of the decay spreading in a tooth. Only when a tooth becomes acute does a patient complain of pain.
This usually means the decay has spread to the nerve of the tooth.
Decay can be removed from a tooth in the dentin layer and it can be repaired by a composite resin. Once the decay has been removed it is free of bacteria and healthy.
The examination has also help with the early diagnosis of gingivitis and periodontitis. Both of these diseases can be diagnosed and if caught in the early stages they can be rectified. The patients can be very unaware any gum or bone issues are occurring because the early signs are not symptomatic to the patient. The patient will not have pain, they might experience bleeding gums but this still doesn’t alarm them there is an issue. The hygienist will do a full periodontal pocketing of the gingiva (gums). This is very important and crucial. The periodontal pockets help the Doctor to establish the health of the mouth. There are many studies related to poor gingival and periodontal conditions relating to overall health of the patient. The research has indicated the periodontitis may be associated with several other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or stroke.
Good sites to visit to verify this information is
ADA American Dental Association
ADA Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry
During the dental examination the dental hygienist will check you gums, check for cavities by the use of digital radiographs, digital photos will be done, periodontal pockets. The patient will have the Dentist review all the information and help the patient with diet/oral habits/hygiene at home and diagnosis of treatment.