Regular dental screenings are important for the following reasons:
· determine how healthy your teeth and gums are and consequently treat existing disease
· evaluate your risk of tooth decay and gum disease so that preventive measures will be introduced before the disease becomes more difficult to treat and manage
· assess presence of inflammation in any part of your mouth including gums and bone loss
· identify any unusual signs in your oral cavity such as discolorations of your oral mucosa or leukoplakia that can be signs of a more serious disorder such as infections
· Screen for oral cancer. Oral cancer is steadily becoming more prevalent and dental screenings can identify this fatal disease at its early stage.
If you haven’t any teeth and you’re wearing full dentures, dental screening is still important. A check up with your dentist will determine how well your replacement teeth or dentures fit; if they are working properly for you; and if you have problems with it. Oftentimes, dentures can irritate the delicate oral mucosa and cause pain and infection. In a few cases, dental screening can even be a lifesaver since signs of oral cancer can be hidden under dentures.
What happens during a regular dental screening? Your dentist or hygienist will do the following:
- Using dental instruments, your dentist or hygienist will inspect your mouth and evaluate oral hygiene
- Scrutinise your teeth one at a time to assess the condition of each tooth. Is it decayed or about to fall off? If your dentist finds cavities he or she will fill them to prevent further tooth decay. Further, your dentist will check for broken fillings and crowns.
- He or she will evaluate your risk of tooth decay including root decay, gum disease such as gingivitis, and bone disease and the possibility of tooth loss and what can be done to prevent or treat this. Which tooth needs restoration or replacement? If some of your teeth are decayed and need to be pulled off, then you’d need dental bridges. Or your dentist discovered a cracked or broken tooth then you’ll need a crown. If a tooth is beyond saving your dentist can recommend dental implants.
- Look for problems regarding your gums by using a probe to check around each tooth to determine the presence of early dental disease
- Look for signs of oral cancer. Your dentist will feel the sides of your neck and under your jaw for the presence of enlarged lymph nodes. Inspect the insides of your lips and cheeks, tongue and the roof of your mouth.
- Inspect your oral mucosa or tissue for ulcerations and lesions
- Look for problems regarding your bite or jaw and if your teeth are crooked or misaligned. Your dentist evaluates your bite by utilizing an impression of your teeth of one or both jaws. An impression is also useful to make a mouth guard or bleaching tray which you can use if your teeth are stained.
- Take x-rays of your teeth to assess specific areas of your mouth and other diagnostic procedures if needed to determine some problems to determine hidden decay in between teeth and level of the bone that can indicate periodontal disease
- Clean your teeth and remove stains
- Recommend some cosmetic procedures that can improve the way your teeth looks like and brighten and beautify your smile
- Teach you the proper way of brushing and flossing your teeth or cleaning your dentures
It’s essential that your dentist should know if you’re suffering from diseases such as diabetes which makes you more at risk for gum disease. Your dentist would want to know your medications too. Some medications can cause dry mouth which can make you prone to tooth decay. If you have arthritis that affects your hands and consequently affects how well you brush your teeth your dentist will recommend a toothbrush adapted for your hands such as inserting your toothbrush into a rubber ball for convenience in brushing your teeth or even using a battery operated toothbrush.
If your dentist is thorough, he or she will discuss the best diet for strong and healthy teeth; smoking or other lifestyle factors that can affect your overall dental health.
A regular dental screening should be done every 6 months as recommended by the American Dental Hygienist’s Association. Or depending on your oral condition your dentist set the next follow up check-up.
Regular dental screenings is an essential part of prevention and oral health promotion. So don’t skip this all important check up. When it’s done, you’ll be very glad you did!