What Does a General Dentist Do During a Check Up Exam?

General Dentist North Hollywood, CA

A general dentist focuses on understanding and treating a broad range of oral health issues. When most people think about going to the dentist, it is a general practice dentist that they have in mind.

According to the CDC, about 63% of adults aged 18 and over visited the dentist in the past year. In children 2-17 years, about 87% did the same. The American Dental Association recommends semi-annual check-up examinations for all ages. For what to expect from these appointments and how to prepare for them, continue reading.

The semi-annual check-up

Most dentists recommend two check-ups a year for appropriate preventive care. Visiting the dentist every six months can help prevent cavities, gum disease and other serious oral health problems. 

What to expect

At these regularly scheduled visits, patients will likely see a dental assistant first. The assistant will prep the patient for the dentist or the dental hygienist. The patient will be asked to sit in a reclining dental chair, and a protective disposable bib will likely be placed around their neck. The assistant may floss the patient’s teeth and take X-rays.

At this point the dentist or a dental hygienist typically comes to thoroughly clean the patient’s teeth. With a special tool, they will scrape the hardened plaque deposits known as tartar off the teeth. A regular toothbrush cannot remove this buildup at home, which is one reason why regular dental visits are so crucial. Then teeth will often be polished and rinsed. This process removes stains and any remaining plaque buildup. A fluoride treatment may also be offered to help strengthen the enamel.

If the dentist has not seen the patient up until this point, they will usually come now to go over the X-rays with the patient and check on any spots of concern. If there are cavities or other issues that need to be addressed, a return appointment will often be scheduled. 

How to prepare for a check-up

The smart way to prepare for a regular check-up with a general dentist is to follow the daily oral healthcare routine recommended by the ADA. This includes flossing and brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste at least twice a day. Flossing and brushing after every meal is the recommended way to avoid dental caries and gum disease. Toothbrushes should be kept clean and replaced often.

It is also wise to avoid too many sugary drinks like soda and juice, as well as sugary treats and candies. Patients with weak enamel may also need to avoid acidic foods like citrus fruit, tomatoes and tomato-based sauces, and drinks like coffee and tea. Acid erodes enamel and can contribute to the formation of dental caries.

Frequently asked questions about check-up exams

Here are some answers to questions patients often have about dental check-ups.

Why do dentists recommend visiting twice a year?

Most patients see the dentist every six months. It can take about this long for cavities and other oral health problems to develop. Waiting longer may give cavities or gingivitis more time to get worse.

However, visiting the dentist every six months is not a hard-and-fast rule. Your dentist can make the final recommendation about what is best for you. If you have excellent oral hygiene habits and no underlying conditions, he or she may decide you can visit once a year.

What if your dentist wants to see you more often?

A few conditions can make your dentist want to see you more than twice a year. Your lifestyle is one consideration. Smoking or drinking alcohol makes you statistically more likely to develop oral diseases or lose teeth.

You may have other conditions that make you more susceptible to tooth or gum problems. Diabetes, pregnancy, AIDS, and hormonal changes can affect oral health. Certain medications can also increase your susceptibility to gum disease or tooth loss.

You may also have a genetic predisposition to developing oral health problems. Perhaps you get cavities more quickly than the average person, or your family has a history of oral health disease. You are born with these conditions, but you can manage them by visiting the dentist more frequently.


With the help of a general dentist, patients can ensure that they are doing all they can to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Regular check-ups, along with proper oral care at home, work together to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis. While genetics and other factors contribute to oral health conditions, there is a lot that you can do to prevent problems with your teeth and gums.

Request an appointment here: https://www.cdcdentalcenter.com or call CDC Dental Center at (818) 578-2325 for an appointment in our North Hollywood office.

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