That is a very professional sounding term for having a dentist look into your mouth every once in a while. By having, at least a yearly Comprehensive Oral Exam, people can eliminate most dental problems that cause the intense pain, to both body and wallet, that makes the dentist such a scary place.
This concept of preventative maintenance, and observation, is similar to many other areas in life. Changing the oil on your car, is a good example. No one would ever dream or waiting until they saw smoke coming out from under the hood of their automobile to get their oil changed. That wouldn’t make any sense. It is far to late for a simple oil change at that point. The damage is done and it will take a lot of heartache, money, and time, to get the car functioning properly again. A simple, regularly scheduled visit to the service center would have told the person that spending a little now would save a lot later.
Teeth are no different. Cavities NEVER start off big. No goes to bed with perfectly healthy teeth and wake up needing a root canal. It just doesn’t happen. The bacteria that live inside of everyone’s mouth need time to breakdown the enamel of the teeth. Enamel is very resilient and can withstand a lot of abuse before giving in. The enamel cannot withstand the abuse for extended periods of time however. At some point it will give way and cavities will form.
But even this is not the end of things. Cavities are simple small holes in the enamel where bacteria can hide. There is still no pain in the tooth. Pain comes into play when the bacteria are continued to go untreated and the little hole in the enamel begins to turn into a big hole that proceeds through the inner layers of the tooth. At this point pain will start to occur. And by simple reasoning we can conclude that since the hole is bigger the treatment must also be bigger.
Most people that are alerted to the fact that they have cavities will say, “That’s strange, I haven’t felt anything”. That is a very good thing. It is these very same people that, when their fillings are completed, will say “that wasn’t so bad”. On the other side it is the people that say, “oh Doc you have got to help me. I am so much pain.” that also end up saying, “that was awful, I hope I never have to do that again!” And the point to all of this is that the proactive and vigilant person will end up being much better off both in physical trauma as well as financial trauma. Everyone should have, at least, an Annual Comprehensive Exam.