You’d be surprised at the importance of routine dental checkups. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just simple teeth cleanings. Dentists use the time to examine and screen you for all sorts of things.
Listed below are five aspects of dental checkups you may not have known. See if you can spot them the next time you visit your dentist!
Screening for Oral Cancer
Part of a dentist’s inspection will involve screening for oral cancer. Because it’s better to catch said cancer’s signs sooner rather than later, they routinely inspect for the disease during standard six-month checkups.
They’ll look for symptoms like sores, red or white patches, lumps, or malignant growths. As the entire screening process only takes a few minutes, most patients don’t even notice it happening.
Inspecting Each Tooth
Your dentist will always observe every one of your teeth for a dental check-up. To do so, they use a small mirror and dental “explorer” to evaluate each tooth for health concerns.
They will pay close attention to your teeth’s outer layer of enamel. Plaque and bacteria buildup on this layer can cause tooth decay, cavities, and staining. Signs of stress on tooth surfaces could also indicate teeth grinding at night, nail-biting, or chewing objects.
Examining Your Gums
While dentists are usually associated with keeping teeth healthy and clean, they do the same for your gums. Of course, that means they examine these pink tissues in dental checkups.
They will look for signs of bleeding, swelling, and large gum pockets during their examination. These three symptoms tend to indicate unhealthy gums or gum disease.
Inspecting Your Salivary Glands
Saliva is essential for a healthy mouth, as it washes away harmful bacteria. Therefore, a dentist will assess your salivary glands to see whether they’re producing adequate amounts of it.
Lack of saliva could lead to several conditions. Dehydration is the most obvious, but the risk of bad breath, cavities, and infections would also increase.
Checking Your Bite & Jaw
A dentist will then check your bite and jaw to ensure everything is aligned correctly.
Looking at your bite will let them know if your teeth have moved. If tooth movement has occurred, they might suggest you get braces from an orthodontics-trained dentist or ‘orthodontist.’
Meanwhile, they’ll note your jaw to see if you’ve developed TMD. Also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, it’s a jaw disorder frequently caused by teeth-grinding.
Dental checkups are a fundamental building block to good oral health. You can experience what they offer — including the above — by contacting your local dentist for a routine visit!
About the Author
Dr. Ira Newman is a dentist based in New York, NY, having earned his DDS from Emory University’s School of Dentistry. He later trained at NYU’s College of Dentistry and the Bellevue Hospital Center during a one-year residency. With over twenty years of dental experience in respected private practices, Dr. Newman has discussed modern dentistry on CNN, NY 1 News, the Today Show, and CBS News. He currently practices at Gramercy Dental Studio and can be reached at his website or by phone at (212)-924-6890.