The Importance of Your Annual Dental Exam

dental exam

When it comes to taking care of your health, getting a routine dental exam each year is one of the most important things you can do. It takes an experienced dental professional to spot issues with your teeth and conditions in your mouth that may not be visible or even apparent to you. For example, you may not be able to see a broken dental filling in one of your molars, but your dentist certainly can. That dark spot on your tooth - is it a stain or a sign of decay? This is something best diagnosed by the skilled dentists at SEDA Dental of Pompano Beach. Read on to learn more about the numerous dental issues and health conditions that can be identified, and possibly prevented, during an annual examination.

Tooth decay

If left unchecked, decay has the potential to cause serious damage to a tooth and its root. Once bacteria and decay have invaded the tooth’s enamel, it may be possible to slow the progress of the decay, but it cannot be stopped. You may not immediately experience dental pain as the first sign of decay. During a routine dental exam, your dentist will use special tools to assess the health of each of your teeth individually and note any spots where it appears decay has formed. Once it is determined to be present, a treatment plan that includes dental restorations (also known as a filling) can be created.

Broken, cracked, chipped teeth or restorations

You likely are able to notice when a tooth near the front of your mouth becomes chipped or cracked. But what about the teeth in the back? These can be more difficult to see. Oftentimes, chips and cracks in teeth are so small that they are not visible with the naked eye. Nevertheless, they require prompt treatment in order to prevent decay from developing and to avoid costly dental treatments such as a root canal in the future. The only way to spot these issues is with the help of dental x-rays that are routinely performed during annual dental exams. With these radiographs, your dentist will be to take a closer look at the positioning of your teeth as well as their roots. Chips, cracks, and tooth decay will be visible along with evidence of bone loss or even tumors. Dental x-rays are a powerful diagnostic tool.

Damaged or failing restorations

If you have dental restorations, such as a filling or a crown, you may already know that they don’t always last forever. Similar to natural teeth, restorations are vulnerable to damage and can become cracked or broken. During your annual dental exam, the dentists at SEDA Dental of Pompano Beach will inspect the condition of your dental restorations. If problems are spotted, it may be necessary to remove and replace them in order to preserve the proper form and function of your bite, as well as to prevent further tooth decay or damage.

Gum disease

As part of your annual exam at SEDA Dental of Pompano Beach, your dentist will also examine your gums. By observing their color and texture, he or she will be able to determine whether gingivitis or gum disease is present. It is extremely important to diagnose and treat this condition as soon as possible due to its progressive nature. Although it may start out as a simple infection, gum disease and gingivitis can lead to serious oral and overall health issues. Tartar is a calcified substance that hardens on your teeth and forms at or below the gumline and irritates the tissues. As a result, gum disease and gingivitis can develop. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional during a regularly scheduled dental cleaning.

Oral cancer

It is estimated that one person in the U.S. dies every hour of each day as a result of oral cancer. This is why it is extremely important to undergo regular screenings for this disease, which should be included as part of your annual dental exam. During checkups, the dentists at SEDA Dental of Pompano Beach carefully and thoroughly examine your throat, lips, gums, tongue, and face for any signs of disease. Although these symptoms may also be indicative of other, less serious dental and health issues, special attention will be paid to any red or white spots that are present in the oral cavity, as well as sores that tend to bleed easily or have difficulty healing. A lump, thickened, or rough spot, as well as numbness, tenderness, or pain experienced on the lips or in the mouth also may be a cause for concern. Your dentist will be able to evaluate these issues and, if necessary, direct you to a specialist for treatment.

Other health issues and conditions

Did you know that dentists also frequently are able to spot health issues and conditions during annual exams that you may not think would affect your oral health? By examining the teeth as well as the soft tissue of the mouth, your dentist may be able to determine whether you have an underlying health condition that you may not even be aware of.

For example, up to 20% of patients with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition, develop lesions in their mouth long before experiencing stomach cramps and other symptoms that are the hallmark of the disease. Also, stomach acid may erode the tooth enamel in patients who suffer from gastrointestinal reflux disease (better known as GERD). Other diseases and conditions that your dentist may be able to detect during a routine exam include diabetes, anemia, high-stress levels, and osteoporosis.

Besides keeping your teeth clean and sparkling, routine dental exams can be effective for preventing the development of future dental issues and costly treatments. It also is possible for your dentist to observe symptoms of other, more serious diseases that can affect your overall health. If you’re due for your annual exam, call SEDA Dental of Pompano Beach today and schedule your checkup. This is one appointment you don’t want to miss.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.