A dental checkup is essential to great oral health, but do you know why? Do you know what’s happening while your dentist and hygienist poke around in your mouth? We find that many patients don’t actually know what happens during a checkup and we’re willing to bet that you didn’t know your dentist is doing the following five things.
- Checking the tongue. Your tongue is an incredible part of the body. By observing the tongue, your dentist can see what nutrients you may be lacking, if you might be experiencing sleep apnea, or if you’re at risk for oral cancer. He or she will look at the texture of the tongue, whether or not it’s swelling, and many other attributes that can be telling not only of your oral health but also your overall health.
- If you flossed right before your appointment – and not consistently prior. Many patients will floss the day before or even hours before their dental checkup and think that is sufficient for replacing the previous six months’ flossing. Your dentist and hygienist will be able to tell if your gums are bleeding, swollen, or damaged. Dentists can even see slices in the gums where the floss recently cut through tissue. So, no more floss fibs – we can tell!
- If you’re pregnant. A high percentage of pregnant women develop gum disease during pregnancy due to higher amounts of bacteria from increased levels of a hormone called progesterone. Some women even develop lumps on their gums during pregnancy. These oral symptoms usually develop a little later in pregnancy; so don’t worry about your dentist dropping some surprising news.
- Signs for oral cancer. This one is a biggie. A patient may not notice early signs of oral cancer, so your dentist will always do a thorough check. He or she will look for unexplained bleeding, discolored patches on the tongue and gums, a suddenly irregular bite, or any swollen areas.
- Measuring your periodontal pockets. A periodontal pocket is a space between the gum tissue and the tooth. We want these spaces to be as small as possible, as large pockets are a sign of periodontal disease. When gone untreated, periodontal pockets can lead to tooth loss. They form from bacteria, plaque, and lack of proper oral care. Floss daily to keep those pockets nice and small.
In short, dental checkups are very important to your oral health and overall health. Dentists and hygienists are doing so much more than you know to keep your health in tiptop shape. Haven’t had a checkup or cleaning in a while? No problem, call Tafolla & Rikli Family dentistry at 719.598.6680.