We occasionally have patients who come to us with the misconception that a dental exam
isn’t that important and can be skipped. Even though a dental exam may only last for a few minutes, they are packed with significant checks that can be essential to your oral health. Here’s what you could be missing out on:
Oral Cancer Screenings: According to the National Cancer Institute, over 40,000 people are diagnosed with cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx and nearly 8,000 people die from this disease every year. As with many cancers, early detection is crucial and can result in an 80-90 percent recovery rate. During the screening, your dentist will check the inside of your mouth for sores, red or white patches or changing tissues. If an abnormality is found, further tests such as a biopsy, dye test or light test may be performed.
Tooth Decay: Even if you brush and floss each day plaque can start to build up those hard to reach places. You might not be aware that if we catch a weak spot early, often the decay can be completely reversed with fluoride treatment and a special toothpaste. However, if the cavity goes undetected too long, it can turn into hundreds of dollars of treatment to restore.
Gum Disease: Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, is the first stage of gum disease. While gingivitis is usually reversible tissue damage, if left untreated, it can turn into periodontal disease, which leaves more permanent damage. When a person develops periodontitis, the gums pull away from the tooth, leaving an open space. Debris collects in these open “pockets” and they can become infected. Toxins from the bacteria in the pockets break down and destroy the bone and tissues that are surrounding them. This is a serious condition that requires more aggressive treatment.
Medical Conditions: Many health issues have symptoms that can often be detected in the mouth. Some examples include vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, leukemia, thyroid problems, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep and breathing disorders, HIV, tuberculosis and even anxiety. Your dentist may be able to tip you off to a health related issue that your doctor should further examine.
Regular oral exams also give the patient the opportunity to discuss any concerns they have been experiencing such as snoring or sleep apnea, TMJ, sensitive teeth, dry mouth, or chronic bad breath.
If you are due for your six month checkup or have questions for Dr. Dave, give our office in Boise, Idaho a call today! (208) 402-1040