DENTAL WELLNESS VISIT – Check-up exam

Our Dental Wellness Visits are typically the “twice a year check-up” that we offer our patients. Certain patients may need more frequent evaluation due to a number of reasons such as diabetes, dry mouth, pregnancy, drug addiction, radiation therapy or other medical conditions or physical limitations that make it inconvenient for proper oral home care.

By conducting routine maintenance office wellness visits for thorough professional cleaning and exams we are able to remove any plaque that has hardened onto the teeth – also called calculus or tartar. This is a hard, crusty build-up that is difficult to remove with simple brushing or flossing. In addition to looking at the plaque, we also check old fillings for leakage or fracture, gum irritations, deeper pockets that may be forming and monitor the bone levels. We look for redness or swelling in the gums or checks, any infections or bumps or tender areas to make sure they aren’t the result of something more serious going on.

As part of the wellness visit, we can do a cancer screening exam, we may take updated x-rays of your teeth, add a fluoride treatment or go over additional home-care recommendations we may have to help you stay in optimal health. This might include evaluating your airway space to see if you are snoring or may have sleep apnea, or if you grind your teeth.

Dr. James R. Donley of North Muskegon, Michigan is especially careful to make sure his patients are encouraged to come in at the suggested intervals for follow-up Wellness Visits. He had a situation earlier in his career where his own mother was diagnosed with oral cancer in the lateral border of her tongue. It had been misdiagnosed by her medical doctors. There was not swelling and no visual difference, so they called it “burning tongue” syndrome at the time. By the time it was “properly diagnosed”, it had progress to an advanced stage and actually had gotten into her lymph nodes making treatment challenging and required radiation but it was too advanced to cure it.

As a result, Dr. Donley includes an oral cancer screening using an instrument called the OralID®. For many years, he used the VelScope in his practice, but found this device easier to use, less intimidating and equally as effective.

This device uses a blue light to help us visualize any abnormalities in the tissue – both cancerous and pre-cancerous. This technology has been used in medicine for years. It is a screening device that is simple and efficient to use. When abnormalities are identified earlier, the success rate is significantly higher and treatment is much more successful.

Patients who are smokers or alcoholics, or even younger people – particularly women who might have oral human papillomavirus – HPV can especially appreciate that we have this service available to help keep them healthy.