Every visit to the dentist can be a little overwhelming. The waiting area seems never-ending and you’re always left wondering what the dentist is doing or what they’re going to tell you when it’s your turn. You can’t see inside your mouth – and neither can your dentist. They need to use X-rays and other tools to figure out what’s going on with your teeth below the gum line.
Dental care is not always the most pleasant topic to talk about, but a regular visit to your dentist is one of the best things you can do for your smile. There are many things going on in those first few minutes of the dentist appointment, and believe it or not, there are things that your dentist does at your checkup that you probably didn’t know about!
Checking Your Gum Health (Periodontal Disease)
Your dentist does more than just check for cavities at your routine checkup – they’re also checking for signs of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems.
During your checkup, your dentist will examine your gums for signs of inflammation, redness, or bleeding. They may also measure the depth of the “pockets” around your teeth, which can be a sign of periodontal disease. If they find any evidence of gum disease, they may recommend a more thorough cleaning (called scaling and root planing) or referral to a periodontist for further treatment.
If you have any concerns about your gum health, be sure to talk to your dentist at your next checkup!
Checking Your Tooth’s Strength
Your dentist does a lot more than just clean your teeth during a checkup. They also check for any signs of tooth decay or damage and make sure your teeth are healthy and strong.
To check the strength of your teeth, your dentist will tap on each tooth with a small tool. They’ll be listening for any changes in sound that could indicate a crack or chip in the tooth. This is important because even a small amount of damage to your tooth can lead to serious problems down the road.
If your dentist finds any areas of concern, they may recommend getting a dental crown or other type of treatment to protect your tooth from further damage.
Checking for oral cancer
Cancer’s early symptoms are often overlooked. The signs of mouth or throat cancer include blocked salivary glands, white lesions, sores or ulcers in the mouth that do not heal, unexplained bleeding, inflamed lymph nodes, or neck glands, discolored patches on the gums and tongue, and cysts. So, at every routine checkup, your dentist will look for these signs.
Checking the TMJ(jaw muscle)
Your dentist is looking for any signs of inflammation or damage to the TMJ, which is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. They will feel around the joint for any tenderness or popping and look for any swelling. They may also ask you to open and close your mouth to see if there is any pain or clicking. If there are any concerns, they may refer you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.
Checking your breath
Halitosis, or bad breath, can be a warning sign for dental issues. A mouth infection, gum disease, poorly fitted dental appliances, cavities, or persistent foul breath may be warning signs. Respiratory infections (bronchitis or pneumonia), sinus infections, diabetes (sweet-smelling breath), acid reflux (stomach acid pouring back up the food pipe), liver or kidney disorders, as well as sinus infections, are examples of systemic conditions indicated by poor breath. Additionally, poor breath may result from dry mouth (xerostomia). Dry mouth can be brought on by some drugs, salivary gland issues, and mouth breathing.
Checking your tongue
A healthy tongue should have pink color and tiny nodules all over it. However, in certain instances, a painful tongue may be an indication of vitamin deficiency, oral cancer, or AIDS. The majority of reasons of tongue disorders, such as soreness or discoloration, are not dangerous. Every day, when cleaning your teeth, it is essential to clean your tongue.
Cleaning, Polishing, and Flossing
Your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth, removing any plaque or tartar buildup. They may also use a rotating brush or polishing tool to give your teeth a deeper clean and make them look extra shiny. Don’t forget – your dentist will also floss between your teeth to remove any hidden food particles or plaque.
Checking your bite
When you squeeze your upper and lower jaws together, your bite is how your teeth line up. Your dentist can better understand your mouth’s alignment and any prospective orthodontic work you might require by assessing your bite.
This is one of the reasons it’s crucial to visit the same dentist regularly; no one else except your regular dentist will be able to tell when your bite alters and endangers the health of your teeth as a whole. Clear aligners and other discrete orthodontic options are available for adults who want to move their teeth back into position.
Even while you might not spend the majority of your checkup time at the dentist, the quality of that time is important. Your mouth may reveal a lot about your general health and well-being. The following time you have your biannual checkup, you’ll be aware of what they are looking for and prepared to raise any potential health issues.