An important part of your oral health care is to have regular dental check-ups. It is during these exams that we determine your overall oral health, the condition of specific areas such as the health of your gums or the presence of cavities, and we look for other problems like oral cancer or the need for braces. During these check-ups you will receive one of several types of dental exams.
- Comprehensive Exam – Also called the Comprehensive Oral Evaluation, this exam is typically done for patients who are new to the practice. As the name implies, it is a comprehensive or complete look at the overall dental health of the patient. Comprehensive exams are also done on patients if it has been a while since they have been to see the dentist. During a comprehensive exam we will take and review any necessary x-rays, do an exam of the teeth and gums looking for tooth decay, broken or misaligned teeth, gum tissue inflammation, infections, build up of tarter as well as a look at the tongue, floor of the mouth, the cheeks and the roof of the mouth to see if there are any suspicious areas that should be considered as an abnormal pathology or oral cancer. We will also check all of the existing dental work you have to make sure crowns, fillings, bridges, implants and other work is in good shape or need attention
- Periodic Exam – Also called a Periodic Oral Evaluation, is the exam that is given during your regular, 6-month dental check-up. The periodic exam is basically the same as the comprehensive exam, only coded differently for insurance and medical records purposes.
- Limited Exam – Limited Oral Examination, is an exam that is focused on a problem. these are usually emergency exams where the main goal is to relive an urgent problem, rather than addressing the total care needed for overall oral health.
X-Rays or Dental Radiographs
We may need a one or more of several different types of dental x-rays, also called radiographs. These are the types of x-rays that you might expect during a typical dental examination:
- Panoramic Radiographs – sometimes called a “pano” is a type of x-ray that takes a picture of the full mouth and jaws, and shows us the location of the teeth, sinuses, the TMJ and other structures. These are useful in the diagnosis of wisdom teeth extractions and planning for implants.
Bitewing radiograph – Is a picture taken from the side that shows us the spaces between the teeth, where dental cavities often appear.
Periapical radiographs – Also called “PAs” are pictures that show us an entire tooth, from top to root tip. These are useful in diagnosing problems with individual teeth, such as the need for a root canal.
Full Mouth Series – The full mouth series is a combination of bite wing radiographs and periapical radiographs that show us the individual teeth on a close-up scale compared to the panoramic radiograph. These are useful in determining your overall treatment needs and your current oral health status.
The Smile Anchorage uses modern, all digital x-ray equipment. New, modern digital x-ray machines produce far less radiation than the older film based systems. Today, you are likely to get more radiation from typical day-to-day activities than you are from a single digital x-ray.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the most common questions we receive regarding dental examinations and x-rays.
During a routine dental cleaning, you will likely be given an option to have a fluoride treatment. Declining the fluoride could be to your own detriment.
What Is Fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally. It is added to toothpaste to increase the strength of the enamel and protect against tooth decay. Nearly 100 years ago researchers discovered that having fluoride in drinking water reduced the number of cavities by about two thirds! People who live in areas without fluoridated water have many more cavities than those who live in cities that have fluoride in the water.
How Can A Fluoride Treatment Help Me?
The treatment is added insurance against the development of tooth decay. For example, if you have existing crowns, bridges, braces or fillings, the fluoride treatment can help to reduce the incidence of new decay around those structures.
X rays are an important diagnostic tool when evaluating your dental condition. It isn’t always necessary to have dental x rays taken during every visit, but they are important and needed when certain criteria arise. In general it is important to have a panoramic x ray once every 3-5 years. Bitewing x rays are usually taken once per year, or when a problem arises that requires a new picture.
Modern x-ray equipment is very safe. In days gone by, the level of radiation during a routine film x-ray was many, many, many times greater than the digital sensor systems used today. So, even in those long ago times where film was the standard, x-rays were safe at the level, speed and quantity used in dentistry. Today, the amount is much smaller than the radiation that is regularly introduced to people from their daily activities.
A typical exam and dental cleaning appointment lasts about 40 minutes to one hour. Some appointments can take less time, some could take longer depending upon the current condition of the teeth and gums, the level of care that has been performed at home, and other factors.
The cost of any particular procedure is going to vary depending on a number of factors. For example, you may have an insurance plan that has a specific contracted payment amount, or you may have an insurance co-pay or deductible. For an accurate cost on any particular treatment, please contact our front office staff and we will gladly help you determine your out-of-pocket costs.
Modern x-ray equipment is safe for children. In days gone by, the level of radiation that a child was exposed to during a routine film x-ray was many, many, many times greater than the digital sensor systems used today. So, even in those long ago times where film was the standard, x-rays were safe at the level, speed and quantity used in dentistry. Today, the amount is much smaller than the radiation that is regularly introduced to children from their daily activities.
Dental Insurance Plans
Our dental office is a participating provider for a number of dental insurance plans. The Smile Anchorage accepts the insurance plans of most of the major employers in the area. Notably this includes United Parcel Service UPS, Humana, Ford Motor Company, Yum! Brands, Papa John’s and many others.
Please keep in mind that your insurance coverage may be different that that of your co-workers. Even though you have the same provider, you may be enrolled in a different plan. Hence, plans can vary greatly. For example, your co-worker might have coverage for braces. In contrast, you may have no coverage for those procedures. By the same token your co-worker may pay $25 for a filling. Instead, you might pay nothing for a similar filling. The Smile Anchorage does not have any say in what your plan covers. Call or come by our office. Speak to one of our insurance specialists. They can tell you about your exact coverages.
You Have No Insurance
We know that many of our patients have no insurance. So, The Smile Anchorage has an in-house dental plan for those without insurance called The Smile Program. Firstly, The Smile Program covers twice per year cleanings. Secondly, exams are included two times per year. Likewise, all necessary x-rays are included. Thirdly, there are discounts on certain treatments. Additionally there are no claim forms. Equally important other benefits are explained on our New Patients page. Click here to learn more about The Smile Program.
The list of dental insurance plans that are accepted at The Smile Anchorage is not a static list. Correspondingly, changes sometimes occur. With this in mind, we advise that you call to confirm that your insurance is accepted in our office before you make an appointment.
A current list of insurance providers that are accepted in our office is shown below. Providers change. The list is updated as of July 2017.
LHI Logistics Health Incorporated
Lincoln Financial Group
United Concordia & ADDP United Concordia