We all go to the dentist, some more frequently than others. You may even have a general idea of what your dentist is doing in there as your smile goes from dull to sparkling. But did you know that your dentist is doing a whole lot more than just cleaning your teeth?
Today, all of us here at Susquehanna Dental Arts want to take you on a deep dive into just how much of your health your dentist is checking during your routine visits. As it turns out, there is much more than meets the eye.
Checking for Cancer
Oral cancer can lurk unnoticed for quite some time before you have any noticeable symptoms. Every time you go in for a routine checkup, your dentist is scouring your teeth, gums, tonsils, and inner cheeks for signs of oral or throat cancer, such as white lesions in the mouth, discoloration on the tongue, blocked salivary glands, and other symptoms.
Dentin is the layer of a tooth beneath the enamel consisting of small channels that transmit nerve signals through the tooth. If the enamel erodes away, those passageways allow for hot, cold, or acidic foods to stimulate the nerves inside the tooth, causing the familiar food sensitivities. Unlike enamel, which is static throughout our lives, dentin is constantly changing and evolving. Your dentist can detect any changes using x-rays.
Smelling your Breath
If you’re thinking “oh, gross! I don’t want my dentist to smell my breath!”, then there’s probably a reason why he’s doing it. Bad breath, or halitosis, can be a potential red flag signaling underlying dental problems. Persistent bad breath not resolved by brushing can be a warning of gum disease or cavities. Dry mouth can also cause bad breath, since saliva is necessary to neutralize acids produced by plaque.
Checking your Temporomandibular Joint
What on Earth is that?? The acronym for the temporomandibular joint is much more recognizable as TMJ. This important joint connects your jawbone to your skull. Your dentist will want to make sure it’s healthy and working normally; pain while opening and closing the mouth or hearing a popping sound could be signals that the disc cushioning the joint is wearing thin. Many people with TMJ disorders wear protective guards when they sleep to relieve symptoms.
Watching out for Signs of Diabetes
Yes, your dentist can do that! Bad breath, gum infection, and bone loss that don’t respond to normal treatment could be signs of diabetes. If your dentist suspects that you may have diabetes and you haven’t already been diagnosed, he will likely refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and testing.
There’s a lot of ground for your dentist to cover at each of your routine visits; every aspect of your mouth and throat is carefully examined to ensure that you’re receiving proper treatment and staying healthy. Need to schedule your next appointment? Give Susquehanna Dental Arts a call at 717-285-7033. We look forward to hearing from you!