Dental exams are not only for the health of your teeth but also for your overall health. Many people feel that if their teeth are not hurting that everything is fine. Your teeth should not hurt, and pain is the body’s way of indicating that there is usually a problem. Similar to ignoring the unusual sounds of your car, it usually costs more to repair. The same holds true in your mouth. If you catch a symptom or pain when it is slight, you can typically fix the problem before it is so extensive and more costly.

Your Teeth
Your dentist will check for signs of decay (cavities), including recurrent decay around old worn fillings and decay on the roots. Roots that become exposed when gums recede are more likely to get cavities because there is no enamel to protect them. Detecting cavities early can save time, money and your teeth.

Cancer Screening
During your dental exam, your dentist can screen for precancerous changes in your mouth. The sooner any cancer can be detected, the better the chances for successful treatment. Your dentist and dental hygienist check your neck and oral tissues for lumps, bumps, masses, red or white patches or recurring sore areas. It is especially important to check the lips for areas that may have changed due to sun or tobacco exposure.

Systemic Health
Oral (dental) health is connected with your general health. Some diseases or medical conditions have signs that appear in the mouth. Diabetes, nutritional and vitamin deficiencies, as well as hormonal irregularities are frequently first noted in the mouth.

Periodontal (gum) disease
Dental exams are important in the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease affects three out of four adults at some point in their lives, according to the American Dental Association. You may not have symptoms or be aware that you have the disease until it has progressed. Your dentist will measure your periodontal health at your exams to keep a close monitor on your periodontal health. The sooner the disease is diagnosed and treated, the better your prognosis.

Changes in Your Health
Tell your dentist of any medical conditions you have or changes in your health since your last visit. Tell your dentist of prescription and over the counter products you take, since these may all affect your dental health.

By scheduling regular dental visits and talking with your dentist, you can help keep your mouth healthy for your lifetime.

For questions you would like to see addressed in our column, please email us at Donna Helton DDS. For further
information about our practice or to schedule an appointment please call 434-792-5416

About The Author

Donna Helton