Dental examinations are essential for detecting and treating dental problems early. During a dental exam, your dentist will check your teeth and gums for any signs of disease or infection. They will also look for cavities (tooth decay) and other teeth damage signs.
Here are six of them.
1. Check for Plaque and Tartar
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar (calculus). Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Plaque and tartar can cause cavities (tooth decay) and gum disease.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. Gum disease can cause pain, tooth loss, and other problems.
To help prevent plaque and tartar build-up:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Clean your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
If you already have plaque or tartar on your teeth, your dentist or dental hygienist can remove it during a professional cleaning.
2. Check for Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is damage to the tooth that happens when plaque turns into acids that eat away at the tooth enamel. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque constantly forms on teeth. Brushing and flossing help remove plaque before it turns into acids. But sometimes plaque is not removed, and it turns into acids. Acids destroy tooth enamel, the hard outer coating of your teeth. Once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot be repaired. Tooth decay can cause pain, tooth loss, and infections. It is essential to take care of your teeth by brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist for regular checkups.
There are three stages of tooth decay:
- White Spots: This is the earliest stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the tooth’s enamel is starting to break down. You may not be able to see the white spots, but your dentist can see them with a special light.
- Cavities: This is the next stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the enamel has been completely broken down, and there is a small hole in the tooth. The cavity will continue to grow more significantly if it is not treated.
- Tooth Loss: This is the most severe stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the tooth has fallen out or needs to be removed by a dentist.
Tooth decay is preventable. You can prevent tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing daily, eating a balanced diet, and visiting the dentist regularly.
3. Check for Gum Disease
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can damage the tissue and bone that support your teeth. Gum disease is usually caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed, it can harden and turn into tartar. Tartar can cause your gums to become inflamed or infected. Inflammation of the gums is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with good oral hygiene. If gingivitis is not treated, it can lead to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Periodontitis can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and form deep pockets. Bacteria can grow in these pockets and damage the bones and tissue that support your teeth. Periodontitis can eventually lead to tooth loss.
4. Examine Your Tongue
Your dentist will look at your tongue to check for abnormalities such as inflammation, lesions, or growth. She will also feel your tongue to check for any lumps or bumps. In addition to a physical examination, your dentist may order a blood test to check for anemia or other problems. She may also contain a biopsy of your tongue tissue to rule out cancer. Treatment for conditions that affect the tongue usually relieves symptoms and prevents complications.
If you have oral thrush, your dentist will likely prescribe an antifungal medication. He may recommend using a topical corticosteroid to reduce inflammation if you have a geographic tongue. He may recommend gently brushing your tongue with a toothbrush or using a tongue scraper if you have a black hairy tongue.
5. Check Your Lips and cheeks.
Your dentist will check your lips and cheeks for any signs of inflammation or infection. They will also look at your tongue, throat, and the roof of your mouth for any sores or growths. You may be asked to swallow so your dentist can check your pharynx (the back part of your throat) and esophagus (the tube connecting your throat to your stomach).
In addition to a visual exam, your dentist may also use a small mirror or another tool to help them get a better view of all areas of your mouth. They may take a biopsy (a tissue sample) for further testing if they see anything suspicious.
5. Take X-rays
Depending on your oral health, your dentist may recommend that you have dental x-rays taken. Dental x-rays can help detect problems such as tooth decay, infections, and tumors.
After the examination is complete, your dentist will discuss any findings with you and develop a treatment plan if necessary.
Aria Dental is a top-rated dentist in San Antonio that offers a wide range of services to meet your needs. Whether you’re looking for routine cleaning or more complex dental work, Aria Dental can help. They offer various payment options to make dental care more affordable, and their experienced team is dedicated to providing quality care. Contact Aria Dental today to schedule an appointment.