What Exactly Is Your Dentist Looking For?
Routine dental visits aid in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of tooth decay, oral soft tissue disease, and periodontal diseases. A complete dental exam should include the following.
A soft tissue examination. The purpose of the soft tissue examination is to spot precancerous and cancerous changes in the oral tissues. If detected at an early stage, oral cancer can be successfully treated. A thorough soft tissue examination should include a visual inspection and finger exploration of the tongue, floor of the mouth, palate, salivary glands, insides of the cheek, and back of the throat. The tongue should be moved to allow for the inspection of its sides and base. The face, head, and neck should also be examined, and any enlarged lymph nodes identified.
A screening and examination for periodontal (gum) diseases. Using a periodontal probe, your dentist or hygienist will measure the band of gum tissue that surrounds the tooth. Gum disease is easiest to treat when detected during the early stages.
A detailed charting of cavities, existing restorations (fillings and crowns), and other tooth conditions. Every tooth surface is inspected for new decay and the status of existing restorations. Dental radiographs (X-rays) may be part of your routine dental visit and will assist the dentist in locating disease that cannot be seen by the eye, such as cavities between the teeth or bone loss beneath the gums.
Although annual (or more frequent) dental examinations are often recommended, there is little scientific evidence that this frequency is necessary for the maintenance of oral health in healthy children or adults. How often you visit the dentist should be based on your individual need.
8 Ways To Avoid Tooth Loss
Tooth loss, also known as edentulism, is not only embarrassing, it can rob you of the ability to chew and properly digest food. Tooth loss has serious social, psychological, and emotional consequences that can impact your life and self-esteem. It should be avoided at all costs.
Contrary to popular belief, the elderly are not the only people who suffer tooth loss. Children and adults are also at risk if they don’t practice proper oral hygiene.
Tooth loss is caused by gum disease brought on by smoking, inadequate tooth brushing and flossing, lack of professional dental care, diabetes, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other causes of tooth loss include:
- Poor diet. Foods and beverages high in sugar, carbohydrates and acid may cause irreversible tooth and gum damage.
- Dental phobia. Many people suffer from anxiety/fear of going to the dentist, and do not seek dental treatment, even if they know they have a problem or are in pain. Ignoring tooth decay or other serious dental problems can prolong and aggravate the condition and eventually lead to tooth loss.
- Finances. Some people have to postpone or forgo dental visits and treatments, including regular check-ups and cleanings, due to high dental care costs and/or lack of insurance coverage. Unfortunately, prolonging or eliminating dental care increases the chances of developing serious problems and, subsequently, greater expense for repairs.
- Medical treatments. Certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, head radiation therapy and immunosuppresive medications, weaken the immune system. These treatments may increase the risk of tooth infections and, consequently, the need for tooth extraction.
Nowadays, most people will maintain their natural teeth over their entire lifetime. Following these 8 dental care tips can help ensure you’re part of that lucky majority:
- Oil Pull. The use of oil pulling as a technique for your teeth and gums is over 100 years old. Try using extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil as a rinse in your mouth for 30 seconds. Rinse thoroughly and repeat weekly for healthier teeth.
- Don’t forget your gums. Thorough tooth brushing and flossing to reduce dental plaque can prevent gingivitis, but don’t forget about your gums. Brush below the gum line to massage the gums and keep them healthy.
- Avoid tobacco. Tobacco use in any form increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infection (candidiasis).
- Limit alcohol. When used alone, alcohol is a risk factor for oral cancers. When used in combination with tobacco, the effects are even greater.
- Got Juice? Use a straw. You’d be surprised by just using a simple straw when drinking sugary drinks like juice or soda can help prolong the health of your teeth. It keeps a large portion of the sugary substance from hitting your teeth and gums and goes to where it need to: your throat and stomach
- Visit the dentist regularly. There are a lot of people that hate going to the dentist because they are afraid of what they will find and it could be painful. But checkups can detect early signs of oral health problems and lead to treatments that will prevent further damage.
- Diabetic patients should work to maintain control of their disease. An increased risk of gum disease is a complication of diabetes.
- If medications produce a dry mouth, ask your doctor if there are other drugs that can be substituted. If not, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco and alcohol.