Any dentist in a family dental care clinic or specialty clinic will tell you that dental health has a strong connection to your overall health.
Since the 1800s, it has been known that an abscessed tooth can lead to death if not treated. Recently, more and more connections have been made between oral health and many general health conditions like heart health, migraines, osteoporosis and more. You can read more about these links in our blog Gum Disease: The Connections Between Oral Health and Overall Health.
Family dental care, including regular dental exams, are important to keep your teeth and body healthy!
Is a Dental Exam the Same as Teeth Cleaning?
A dental exam is different from a cleaning from the dental hygienist.
However, a dental hygienist will start the cleaning with an exam. They will look at your entire mouth, checking the overall health of your teeth, and gums. If they see a concern, they will make notes for the dentist. They may call in the dentist before proceeding with your cleaning to be sure it’s safe to go ahead.
That part after the cleaning where your dentist visits and pokes around your mouth? That’s the dental exam. Your dentist is not just seeing if your teeth are clean, they’re checking your mouth for the condition of your overall oral health.
The Dental Exam – A Critical Part of Family Dental Care
What exactly is the dentist looking for when they’re performing a dental exam? They’re looking for any problems with your teeth, mouth, or jaw that may need treatment. It is possible your dentist can find and address problems early to save you from additional health problems or expenses down the road.
Regular visits to the dentist are important at every age. And dental concerns change with age and health.
During the dental exam, your dentist is looking for:
- damaged, decayed or missing teeth or early signs of cavities.
- the condition of your gums, looking for inflammation, bleeding or other signs of gum disease.
- the condition of earlier dental work, like root canals, fillings and crowns.
- signs of mouth or throat cancer, like lesions, blocked salivary glands or cysts.
- tooth spacing – crowded teeth or gaps.
- Signs of teeth grinding, tightness in the jaw and the condition of the bones in your face and jaw.
- bleeding or inflammation on your tongue or the roof of your mouth.
- the general condition of the bones in your face, jaw and around your mouth.
The dental exam can even catch problems early on, when they are much easier and less expensive to treat.
What Does an X-Ray Tell a Dentist?
Your dentist might also want to take X-rays of your teeth. X-rays let the dentist see things that may not be obvious from a dental exam, like changes in dental work, bone fractures, tooth decay under your fillings or crowns, impacted teeth, or tooth crowding.
Discuss your Overall Health with Your Dentist
Because dental health is so closely related to overall health, your dentist or dental hygienist may ask health-related questions, too. They’re not being nosy…they’re trying to understand which conditions they should look out for when performing the dental exam.
Be sure to tell your dentist about your overall health, including:
- changes to existin
- g medical conditions or new medical conditions.
- medications you are taking – some medications can cause dry mouth or bleeding gums.
- if you’re pregnant.
- if you have any allergies.
- changes to your teeth (colour, looseness or position).
- changes to your gums (swelling or bleeding) or the inside of your mouth.
- issues with sensitive teeth.
- whether your floss catches on rough edges, causing it to shred.
- any colour changes in the skin on the inside of your mouth.
- if you have tension in your jaws or are aware if you grind your teeth.
Choose Cranberry Hill Dentistry for Family Dental Care in Waterdown
Looking to find a dentist in Waterdown? Be sure to try Cranberry Hill Dentistry for friendly, professional family dental care. Contact Cranberry Hill Dentistry to make your next appointment today!
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Canadian Dental Association – The Dental Exam: An Overview
Ontario Dental Association – General Dental Examination