You may be tempted to think that your dental check-up has been a waste of time when your dentist says that you have no decay. But dental check- ups are a valuable indicator of so much more than just decay.
More than just teeth….
At a dental check-up, your dentist will examine your whole mouth including your cheeks, gums, tongue, under your tongue, roof of your mouth (palate) and throat. Sometimes you can have infections like thrush and not be aware of it. Oral cancers often start as small, painless spots in places that you can’t see when you look in your own mouth. Conditions such as gastric reflux are often diagnosed at check-up appointments when dentists observe etching and eroding of tooth surfaces, especially molars (back teeth). As you can appreciate, any infection, cancer or condition is much more easily treated when it’s found and diagnosed as early as possible.
Gum health is important too….
During your dental check-up, your dentist will check the condition of your gums. Gum disease is somewhat of a silent problem. People seem to accept swollen and bleeding gums as part of life, however, bleeding indicates ulceration and infection.
You would be surprised at the total area of your gums – perhaps the size of the palm of your hand. If you had ulceration covering that area of your hand that constantly bled, you would be very concerned and wanting a prompt, positive outcome.
Gum disease not only affects your teeth but it has been linked to risks in your general health such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Gum disease has even been associated with problems in pregnancy and dementia.
Now to the teeth….
Your dentist will also examine your teeth at a dental check-up. They look at how your teeth close together (your occlusion), the condition of your teeth (decay, plaque and calculus build up) and previous fillings. They check for potential problems like wisdom teeth that may be impacted or teeth that are being moved out of place by other teeth.
Your dentist may take xrays of various kinds to determine if there is decay between teeth or under old fillings. A panoramic xray (OPG) will show your whole mouth so decay, impacted teeth or even infections can be visible and diagnosed.
Sometimes you can even have extra teeth that you didn’t know about! These are called super-numerary teeth and while they are not routinely present, they are not uncommon
I have a question…
A dental check-up is a great opportunity to ask questions about any aspect of your dental care that you would like personalised advice about.
You might have questions about diet and your teeth, how to brush and floss effectively, whether to use a mouthwash, what kinds of filling options there are, how to close a gap when you’ve lost a tooth or how tooth whitening could work for you.
Clean and fresh….
A dental check-up usually includes having your teeth scaled so plaque (biofilm) and calculus (hardened plaque and debris) is removed. Plaque and calculus harbour bacteria that cause decay and gum disease. Once calculus has hardened on teeth, it needs to be professionally removed to avoid damage to teeth and gums.
A dental clean will remove stains that have accumulated on your teeth. These stains can be from food or drink such as tea, coffee, red wine or heavily coloured food like curries. Stains can also build up around old fillings or contours on your teeth in areas that may be hard to clean. It’s a pleasant surprise to see how much fresher your teeth look after a clean and they feel so good!.
Fluoride is usually applied at the end of a dental check-up. Fluoride is an important part of combating tooth decay by strengthening teeth against acid attack. Fluoride may be applied as a gel, cream or concentrated paste on a particular area.
So a dental check-up is not “just a check -up”.
It serves a very valuable defence against disease – both dental disease and your general health.
A dental check-up can stop a little problem becoming a big, time-consuming and costly problem.
If you’re due for a check-up, our team at Renton Dental would be very pleased to help.