Thorough Examinations

The Vital Role of Thorough Dental Examinations

Thorough dental examinations don’t just identify problems with your teeth. As well as leading to decisions on the best ways to look after your mouth, they are a crucial aid to your maintaining good general health. By prioritising regular dental examinations, you take proactive steps to preserve not only the health of your mouth but also to reduce your risk of serious health complications.

Maintaining good oral health goes beyond just brushing and flossing daily. Regular dental examinations are a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, contributing not only to the well-being of the mouth but also to overall general health. Thorough dental examinations play a pivotal role in identifying early signs of two critical conditions: mouth cancer and gum disease. Ignoring these dental diseases can have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the mouth, impacting the body’s overall health.

It’s important to arrange regular check ups for signs and symptoms of gum disease!

The 8 Elements of a Thorough Examination

1/ A Review of Your Medical History

Before your examination your dentist will want to take or review your current medical history. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease or allergies can influence the way your treatments are provided.

Medicines you may be taking might have an effect on the condition of your gums or the skin of your mouth. Special precautions may need to be taken if you are on medicines that thin your blood or medicines to treat osteoporosis and other bone conditions.

There are many more aspects of your medical history that can be of great importance in planning safe and appropriate dental treatment. That’s why it’s vital the dentist always has current information.

2/ Examination of Your Face and Neck

Before the exam of your mouth begins your dentist will carefully look at the skin of your face and neck to check for any abnormalities. Examples are moles that are itching/getting bigger, lumps in or under the skin or changes from normal appearance and texture.

Skin cancer is often discovered during dental examinations and the earlier it is treated the better the outcome.

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3/ Feeling for Lumps

Infections in the mouth can cause swellings in the neck and under the jaw. Rarely but more seriously these swellings may be the result of cancer. That’s why the dentist will carefully feel areas of the neck and face to identify these swellings at an early stage.

4/ Examination of the Inside of the Mouth

Various conditions can cause changes to the skin of the inside of the mouth. Most are harmless but some are potentially very serious, like mouth cancer. Mouth cancer is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease that affects various parts of the mouth, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Early detection of mouth cancer is crucial.

Dentists are trained to recognise subtle changes that might indicate the presence of mouth cancer. These changes can include persistent red or white patches, sores that do not heal, unexplained bleeding, lumps, or thickening of the tissues. Detecting these signs early can lead to timely intervention, which significantly increases the chances of successful treatment and survival.

5/ Examination of the Gums

Healthy gums are essential to preserve the natural teeth. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is another condition that underscores the importance of thorough dental examinations. It is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth and can range from mild gum inflammation (gingivitis) to severe damage to the soft tissues and bone (periodontitis) which can cause teeth to become loose and require extraction. While gum disease primarily affects oral health, its impact extends beyond the mouth.

Research has shown a strong connection between gum disease and various systemic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and even pregnancy complications.

The inflammation caused by gum disease can contribute to the progression of these conditions, highlighting the need for early detection and management. Thorough dental examinations allow dentists to assess the health of the gums, identify signs of gum disease, and recommend appropriate treatment and preventive measures.

Ignoring diseases like mouth cancer & gum disease can have serious consequences for oral and general health. When left untreated, these conditions can lead to:

  • Advanced Disease Progression: Delaying diagnosis and treatment can lead to the spread of cancerous cells or the advancement of gum disease, resulting in the need for more extensive and invasive treatments.
  • Discomfort and Pain: Gum disease can cause swollen, bleeding gums and chronic bad breath. Advanced stages can lead to tooth mobility and even tooth loss, affecting chewing ability and overall quality of life.
  • Compromised Nutrition: Difficulty in chewing and eating due to oral health issues can lead to poor nutrition and an increased risk of other health problems.
  • General Health Complications: The inflammation associated with gum disease can exacerbate conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, leading to increased health risks.

Disfigurement and Emotional Impact: Losing teeth can result in changes to the appearance of the face. As well as unsightly gaps, loss of teeth can alter the height of the face and reduce support to the cheeks and lips causing the cheeks to fall in, compromising appearance. Advanced mouth cancer treatments might involve surgery that can alter facial appearance, leading to emotional distress and reduced self-esteem.

6/ Examination of the Teeth

Most people would like to preserve their natural teeth for as long as possible. Teeth of course are important for biting and chewing, activities that are essential to preserve the quality of life.

Furthermore, they form an important element of our facial appearance. The examination of the teeth includes recording the number of teeth present, their support in the jawbones, the condition of the gums surrounding the teeth and the condition of all 5 surfaces of each tooth. As well as a visual assessment we may use x-rays or other diagnostic aids to obtain more information about the condition of the teeth.

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7/ Magnification

However good a clinician’s eyesight may be, magnification and good lighting are essential for efficiently carrying out a thorough examination. Dentists work within a confined space. Teeth are small but attention to detail is paramount. Examination of the soft tissues of the mouth is also facilitated by improving visibility through using light and magnification.

8/ Clinical Photography

At Avenue Road Dental, we use clinical photography to record the condition of the mouth on a patient’s first visit.

We can then use these photographs to monitor changes over time or assess the results of treatment. Most importantly clinical photographs help us explain treatment plans as part of our discussion with patients after the examination.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the importance of thorough dental examinations cannot be overstated. These examinations are not just about maintaining a bright smile; they are critical for detecting early signs of mouth cancer and gum disease and identifying small problems before they become big ones. Ignoring dental diseases can lead to dire consequences, affecting both oral health and overall well- being. By attending for regular examinations you empower yourself to take control of your health and enjoy a healthier, happier life.

Avenue Road Dental is a dental practice offering cosmetic and general dental appointments, and hygiene treatments in the West Wight area, on the Isle of Wight. If you’re interested in seeing how we can help with your gaps, please call reception or you can speak to us at your next appointment.