Everyone knows that regularly visiting the dentist is important, but in our busy lives, it’s easy to put it off. Before you know it, months have passed and you haven’t yet made time for attending to your dental health. But there are several reasons why your dental care needs more attention than just regular brushing and flossing.
A dental checkup does more than give you a professional teeth cleaning. It’s also a time when we screen for potential problems, which can prevent expensive future toothaches. Dr. Thomas Sokoly of Sokoly Dental explains more about why regular checkups are so important for the health of your teeth.
What happens during a dental checkup
Dental checkups have two parts: the cleaning and the exam. The cleaning is what probably comes to mind first because your teeth feel so fresh and renewed after the fact. Indeed, we scrape the tartar and plaque off of your teeth, floss between your teeth, and finish with a refreshing polish, so your mouth should feel great.
The second part of the dental checkup is the professional exam, which includes X-rays. This is the more important aspect of your visit. During the professional exam, Dr. Sokoly examines your teeth and gums for changes that can indicate potential problems. He can then identify if you’ll require further dental work.
The types of problems a dental exam can discover
A dental exam, also called a prophylactic exam, looks specifically for changes to your teeth and gums. Some of the things that Dr. Sokoly checks for include the following:
Dental cavities (also called dental caries) are indicators of tooth decay. They can happen as a result of poor dental hygiene habits, poor diet, and/or genetic factors. It’s important to have dental cavities treated as soon as possible because they get worse if left untreated.
Early signs of gum disease
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is another problem that tends to get much worse if left untreated. During the exam, the dentist pokes at your gums and notices how much room there is when the probe goes between your teeth and gums. The greater the depth, the more likely it is to be a sign that you’re developing gum disease.
Gum disease can lead to future health problems, including infections, tooth loss, and even heart disease and diabetes. The bacteria that lead to gum disease can cause problems when they’re released into your bloodstream. However, the problem is often reversible when it’s caught early.
Screenings for oral cancer
During your checkup, we also screen for signs of oral cancer. This includes checking your tongue, gums, and neck for any unusual lumps or changes. Because these aren’t normal parts of a general physical examination by your family doctor, your dentist is an important member of your healthcare team.
Recommendations for dental work
If you have aspects of your smile that you’re unhappy about, Dr. Sokoly can make recommendations for how to fix them. If your teeth aren’t as white as you would like them to be, you might want to consider getting teeth whitening. Misshapen teeth may mean that you’re a good candidate for veneers or Invisalign®. These types of consultations aren’t standard, but Dr. Sokoly is always willing to offer a professional opinion if asked.
Regular dental checkups are the best way to protect your teeth and make sure they’ll be healthy and strong for many years to come. If you’re overdue for a dental checkup, call Dr. Sokoly at 202-280-2428 today, or request an appointment online.