10 Things Your General Dentist Does at Your Appointment (Part 1)

Do you brush your teeth twice a day? Do you floss at least once a day? Do you see your dentist regularly every six months for your dental checkup and cleaning? While many people assume that daily dental hygiene is enough to maintain their oral health, this is not always the case. In addition to having a great daily dental routine, you also need to make it a routine to visit your general dentist every six months. You may be wondering, why is it so important to visit the dentist twice a year? Semi-annual dental appointments are important because of all the things your dentist does during them. To show you their importance, here are ten things your general dentist does during your appointment: 

Computerized image of a tooth being examined with a dental probe and mirror

Examines Teeth

First things first, your general dentist will carefully examine your teeth for signs of decay, damage, or premature wear. They may use a special dental probe and a dental mirror to the all the different angles of the teeth. In some cases, they may test the teeth for signs of pain or sensitivity. 

Examines Gums

Once the teeth have been examined, the next thing your dentist will likely evaluate is the gums. Healthy gums should be a coral pink color, so your dentist will pay close attention to the color of your gums. Additionally, they may also poke at the gum to see if they bleed. Gums that bleed easily can be a sign of gum disease. Finally, your gum pocket will be measured with a special tool to check for signs of gum recession. 

Examines Jaw

Next, your general dentist will examine your bite for any signs of malocclusion. Different types of Malocclusions can include an overbite, underbite, cross bite, or open bite. Depending on the type and severity of malocclusion, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment to properly align your bite. After checking your bite, your dentist may ask you to open and close so they can make sure your jaw is functioning properly. 

Oral Cancer Screening

Nowadays, many general dentists screen patients for oral cancer during their dental appointments. This is because oral cancer is on the rise, but has a good outlook when diagnosed and treated early. To screen for oral cancer, your doctor will evaluate the soft tissues of your mouth such as your lips, inner cheeks, gums, tongue, hard and soft palates, and your tonsils. If your general dentist notices any changes in coloration or texture that look suspicious, they will refer you to your primary physician for further testing. 

Smells Your Breath

While your general dentist is examining your teeth, gums, jaws, and soft tissues of the mouth, they are also inadvertently smelling your breath. Believe it or not, the smell of your breath can be a potential symptom that dentists use for diagnosis. If your breath has an odor, it could indicate gum disease, tooth decay, infection, or dry mouth. Strong breath odor may also be caused by medical conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infections, acid reflux, kidney problems, liver problems, or diabetes.

For more information on the things your general dentist does during your appointment, see part II. 

Dr. Dennis Laurich

Dr. Dennis Laurich has been practicing dentistry for over 40 years. He received his DDS degree from the University of Michigan Dental School and regularly attends oral health care conventions to continue his dental education. This allows him to treat patients with the leading dental technology and methodologies. Additionally, he is a member of the American Dental Association, Michigan Dental Association, and the Detroit District Dental Society. 

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