Your toothbrush and floss are vital to keeping cavities and gum disease at bay; however, your home oral hygiene habits aren’t enough. The American Dental Association recommends a cleaning and checkup every 6 months, even if you don’t have any current concerns. Don’t underestimate the importance of routine dental checkups. Here are 5 things your dentist is checking to keep your mouth healthy.
1. Examine Each Tooth
Your dentist will use a small mirror and a dental explorer to examine every tooth. The dental instruments allow them to check the strength of your enamel and potential oral health issues, like grinding or clenching your teeth. Routine checkups allow for early detection to resolve the concern before it turns into a big problem.
2. Look for Gum Disease
Cavities aren’t the only danger to your smile. At least 50% of Americans have gum disease, which is a leading cause of tooth loss. Besides taking a good look at your teeth, your dentist will also check for any signs of the infection, like red or swollen gums. The earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is easy to treat and won’t cause any long-term damage with quick detection.
3. Oral Cancer Screening
Over 54,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer annually, which kills 1 person every hour. Although it is easy to detect through regular screenings, a little over 50% of those diagnosed survive 5 years or longer. The mortality rate is associated with late detection; however, research has found that 80% of new cases can be diagnosed by a dentist. Oral cancer screenings are a routine part of preventive appointments, which is just one more reason not to skip your next checkup.
4. Check for TMD
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on either side of your face, connecting your jaw to your skull. Unfortunately, the joint can function incorrectly, limiting normal movements. Disorders of the TMJ can lead to pain, eating complications, and dental problems. Your dentist will check the joint and your bite to ensure everything is working in harmony.
5. Look for Signs of Bruxism
Bruxism is a subconscious habit of grinding and clenching your teeth while sleeping. As a result, many people aren’t aware they are doing it until after complications arise, like jaw pain or broken teeth. However, your dentist can spot signs of bruxism early to create a personalized nightguard to protect your smile.
Semi-annual cleanings and checkups are vital to preserving your natural smile. You’ll lessen the likeliness of needing treatment later to reduce your overall oral health expenses. If it has been more than 6 months since your last appointment, contact your dentist today to invest in the benefits of a dental checkup.
About Dr. Natalie Thillet
Dr. Thillet earned her dental degree at the Marquette University School of Dentistry before continuing her training in advanced studies. She strives to help each patient achieve their best smile through the power of prevention. If you need a cleaning and checkup, contact our office today to request an appointment.