There are 2 parts to a regular dental visit – check up, or examination and the cleaning, or oral prophylaxis.
At the dental check up your dental professional will check for cavities. X-rays might be taken to detect cavities between your teeth. The exam will also include a check for plaque and tartar on your teeth. Plaque is a clear, sticky layer of bacteria. If it is not removed, it can harden and become tartar. You cannot remove tartar with brushing and flossing. If plaque and tartar build up on your teeth, they can cause oral diseases.
Next, your gums will be checked. This will be done with a special tool to measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums. With healthy gums, the spaces are shallow. When people have gum disease, the spaces may become deeper.
The check-up should also include a careful examination of your tongue, throat, face, head, and neck. This is to look for any signs of trouble - swelling, redness, or possible signs of cancer.