Today has been set aside to celebrate and express thanks to the many dental professionals who work so diligently to maintain or restore your oral health. March 6th is National Dentist’s day, which recognizes the various things dentists do every day of the year. If you visit your local dentist twice a year like the American Dental Association recommends, then you may be familiar with some of the things your dentist does.
However, there are probably things your dentist does that you may not be aware of. In honor of National Dentist’s Day, let’s take a look at some of the various things your dentist does to preserve your oral health:
Checks Your Teeth and Gums
Of course your dentist checks your teeth, but they do a lot more than simply look at them to make sure they’re all there. While they will definitely look at them, they will be looking for specific signs that could indicate tooth decay, enamel wear, or signs of chips or cracks in the teeth. Another way they can check for these things is to perform a sensitivity test by blowing air on the teeth to see if it causes tooth sensitivity.
Your gums will also be examined to assess their current condition. During a gum examination, your dentist will visually check your gums for signs of redness, swelling, or discharge. Then, they may gently touch the gums to see if they are tender or if they bleed easily. Finally, they will likely use a special tool to carefully measure how deep the gum pockets are. This tells them if the gums are receding and allows them to track the rate of recession at your dental checkups.
Screens for Oral Cancer
Many people don’t realize that oral cancer is a very real threat to their oral and overall health. Because the rate of oral cancer is rising, you can expect that your dentist is screening your entire mouth for any tissue abnormalities that could indicate more testing is needed. Some dentists even use a screening light that makes abnormal tissue glow. While screening for oral cancer, your dentist will check your lips, tongue, inner cheeks, gums, uvula, pharynx, and hard/soft palates.
Reads Dental X-Rays
Your dentist can also read your dental x-rays so there is no delay between having x-rays taken and knowing your results. In fact, dentists use dental x-rays as an important diagnostic tool to identify hidden cavities, tooth fractures, impacted wisdom teeth, and various other dental concerns.
Counsels on Your Overall Health
Since oral and overall health are closely related, your dentist may offer advice on how to better manage your overall health through managing your oral health and vice versa. They may also ask you about certain medications that have been known to impact oral health in order to provide you with information on how to combat these effects.
These are just a few of the many things your general dentist does during your dental checkup to help preserve your oral health. Some of these can also be performed in addition to restorative procedures to restore your oral health. As you can see, general dentistry goes beyond just teeth and regular dental visits can improve your overall health. Therefore, make sure you take some time today to recognize your dentist’s efforts.
Dr. Michael C. Shuck received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the Medical College of Virginia, Cum Laude. He takes part in many volunteer outreach events, including Virginia’s Mission of Mercy project, Virginia Special Olympics, Give Kids a Smile, and the Jamaica Project. Dr. Shuck also is a regular volunteer at Williamsburg’s Olde Towne Medical Center. He actively participates with Virginia’s Donated Dental Service. Dr. Shuck has been a practicing dentist in the Williamsburg, Virginia area since 2007.