Did you know that March 6th is National Dentist’s Day? Every year during the first week of March, this special day is set aside to celebrate our oral health heroes. General dentists and dental specialists all work hard throughout the year to maintain or restore the oral health of their patients. While this may sound simple enough, this is no easy task and many people are unaware of just how many things their dentist does on a regular basis. Since today is National Dentist’s Day, we thought that it would be an appropriate time to shed some light on the various things your dentist does every day:
Examines Teeth & Gums
Of course, your dentist examines teeth, but do you know exactly what they look for while examining them? When your dentist looks at your teeth, one thing they are looking for is decayed tissue. While some tooth decay can be simply seen, they may also use a tool to feel around the surface of the tooth for any small cavities. As they check each tooth for signs of decay, they will also look for any signs of damage or enamel wear. In some cases, these things can indicate that the patient grinds or clenches their teeth.
Your dentist will also examine your gums for signs of gum disease. Symptoms such as red, tender, or swollen gums, as well as gums that bleed easily, are all possible indicators of gum disease. Another thing your dentist will do to diagnose gum disease is to measure the depth of your gum pockets. Based on the measurements, this tells your dentist if your gums are normal or if they are receding.
Screens for Oral Cancer
Oral cancer rates are on the rise, but it is highly treatable when detected in the early stages. As such, your dentist will do a brief oral cancer screening at each dental checkup. Oral cancer affects the tissues of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, gums, inner cheeks, hard and soft palates, uvula, and pharynx. Therefore, your dentist will examine these areas for any abnormalities that could warrant further testing. They may even use a special light that makes abnormal tissue glow.
Provides Health Counseling
While your dentist won’t necessarily be your new health coach, you can expect that they will ask you basic questions about your medical history, as well as any current medications or medical conditions. They do this because oral and overall health are closely related, therefore information about one can provide indirect information on another. Depending on your individual case, your dentist can provide you with valuable information to help manage your oral and overall health.
Reads Dental X-Rays
During your dental checkup, you are able to have dental x-rays taken and read in the same location during the same appointment. This is because your dentist can easily interpret the information on the x-rays and explain it to you. Dental x-rays are used by your dentist to monitor the health of your teeth and underlying jaw bone, as well as to diagnose dental issues that are not immediately visible. A few things that dental x-rays are commonly used to diagnose are impacted wisdom teeth, fractured teeth, cavities in between the teeth, or dental pulp infections.
As you can see, your dentist performs a wide range of tasks to help maintain your oral health. When you visit your dentist twice a year, this allows them to provide you with the best type of care to reduce your chances of developing serious dental issues. If you don’t have an upcoming appointment with your local dentist, schedule one today in honor of National Dentist Day.
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 leading dental technology and methodologies. Additionally, he is a member of the American Dental Association, Michigan Dental Association, and the Detroit District Dental Society.