West 85th Dental
8561 8A Ave SW Calgary AB T3H 0V5 (403) 246-5545

(587) 355-4332

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What to Expect at a Dental Exam

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Oral health care is a cornerstone of overall well-being, but many avoid or delay going to the dentist. Brushing and flossing help prevent many dental problems, but you should still get professional dental cleanings and exams.

People feel anxious about going to the dentist and put off vital appointments. Many are worried about addressing dental problems they have. But knowing why your dental exam is so critical and what to expect from your appointment can help ease your hesitance. A typical dental exam includes a physical exam, x-rays, and a cleaning.

The West 85th Dental team strives to make your dental appointments something to enjoy, not dread.

What Is the Purpose of a Dental Exam?

Your dental exam is about more than cleaning your teeth. The doctors at West 85th Dental can:

  • Assess overall oral hygiene
  • Check for signs of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Evaluate the jaw and bite
  • Establish if your teeth require fillings or other procedures
  • Examine existing dental work, including root canals, crowns, or fillings
  • Observe the position of your teeth
  • Inspect the mouth and throat for signs of cancer
  • Detect evidence of bruxism or teeth grinding

Many can be nervous or anxious at the dentist, but sedation dentistry can help promote relaxation and make dental procedures more comfortable.

Beyond oral problems, a dentist can detect signs revealing diseases elsewhere in the body. For example, unusual erosion of enamel on the teeth can suggest gut problems, and severe gum disease can sometimes be a feature of diabetes.

What Your Dentist Needs to Know

It may seem like your dental health is entirely removed from your body’s well-being, but the more you can tell your dentist about overall health, the better they can approach your oral health care. Some things you should mention to your dentist include the following:

  • New health conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Any medications, as some side effects can include dry mouth or irritated gums
  • Any new allergies
  • Changes in your teeth’s colour, looseness, or movement
  • Bleeding in your gums or changes in colour
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, or sugar
  • Your diet
  • Tobacco use, either cigarettes, cigars, or chew tobacco
  • Headaches from muscle soreness in your neck or jaw
  • Any dental anxiety
A male dental hygienist looks at a patient's tooth x-ray through the light

What Is a Routine Dental Exam?

Your smile is one of a kind, and your dental exams may differ slightly from one appointment to the next, depending on your dental concerns. Generally, your dental exam will follow a specific trajectory, including a physical exam, x-rays, and cleaning.

Physical Exam

During your dental exam, your dentist and hygienist will physically examine your mouth. The poking and pressure sensations are looking for sensitivity, measuring your gum line for signs of gingivitis, and looking for gaps or pockets in the gums.


To see the interior layers of the teeth, the roots, and between the teeth, x-rays can help detect any signs of decay or cavities not observed in the visual exam. Dental X-rays can also help identify tooth impactions, wisdom teeth, and, in children, the placement of adult teeth in the jaw.

Dental Cleaning

A dental cleaning is one of the main components of a dental exam. We recommend scheduling a cleaning every 6 months to keep your teeth and gums at their best.

A detailed cleaning follows a familiar formula:

  • Scaling: To remove plaque and tartar buildup, your hygienist uses a scaler to scrape away deposits stuck to the teeth, usually concentrated along the gumline. The better your brushing and flossing habits, the easier scaling is, and the more tartar there is on your teeth, the longer this step will take
  • Polishing: A high-powered brush and a gritty toothpaste can deeply clean the teeth of leftover tarter from the scaling
  • Flossing: Professional flossing removes any polish or plaque from between the teeth. Even if you floss regularly at home, your hygienist can point out more sensitive areas, any spots you’re missing, and where to focus your flossing
  • Fluoride: Following a thorough rinse, your dental hygienist will apply a fluoride varnish to your teeth to protect your enamel, prevent cavities, and limit the growth of harmful bacteria

At the end of your dental cleaning, your dentist will review their findings with you. We may recommend follow-up appointments, preventative suggestions, or guidance on what symptoms to look for if you’re at risk of dental issues.

Schedule Your Next Dental Exam in Calgary

Don’t wait until you’re in pain to see the dentist. At West 85th Dental, our team highlights preventative care and can help you avoid some painful dental problems in the future. Book an appointment for a dental exam and cleaning for a brighter and healthier smile.


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  • Written by Dr. Raman Minhas

    Dr. Minhas was born and raised in Calgary, and after completing his dental training at the University of Alberta in 2008, returned home to practice. He opened West 85th Dental with Dr. Kaloti in 2013 and has now been practicing dentistry for over ten years.

    Dr. Minhas enjoys all aspects of general dentistry, from pediatric dentistry to surgical dentistry. When he is not working Dr. Minhas enjoys spending time with his wife Laurie and four children.

    More Articles by Dr. Raman Minhas

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    • 2110, 8561 – 8A Ave, SW,
    • Calgary, AB T3H 0V5

    Contact Number


    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    8:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    7:00 AM - 3:00 PM
    8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    9:00 AM - 2:00 PM

    *open 2 Saturdays a month

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