Every dentist wants to see their patients at least once every six months. Often we have patients wondering what is so magical about that bi-annual visit. After all from a patient’s perspective it seems like we go through the same old routine every single time, and you end up leaving with a new toothbrush. While it is true that we have many of the same routines, you would be one of the lucky ones if you get to leave with just an inspection and a cleaning for the rest of your life. Ideally this is what we would like to accomplish. However, cavities do develop and during these cleanings we can catch the onset of gum diseases, preventing the need additional work. The bi-annual visit is designed to catch and treat anything that may affect your mouth long before it becomes a serious problem that may require you to make an emergency dentist trip.
So what does the dentist do during these routine visits?
For you, and for us, the routine is very similar each time. We will start the visit by cleaning your teeth thoroughly, including flossing between the teeth to make sure there is no plaque buildup or residue. This cleaning removes the plaque on and around the teeth surfaces while also focusing on any plaque that may be near the soft tissue and gum line. Removing this helps prevent a bacterial accumulation that can lead to decay. Next the dentist will give you a full examination. This examination is to identify any teeth that may need work, cavities that may have developed and are in need of filling, and soft spots on the teeth that could be potential problems spots at a later date. We also check the gums and sometimes will take x-rays to get a clear idea of what is going on inside the teeth or with the jawbone. All of these are preventative measures that help keep your mouth in optimal health.
I heard the dentist does an oral cancer screening?
This is absolutely true. For many years, oral cancer was able to slip under the radar, but now it is part of the regular screening process conducted by us when you come in for your six-month visits. Being able to catch, and treat, this disease earlier gives you a much better chance of recovery. Since there are few professionals who know the inside of your mouth like a dentist, we are in the best position to inspect your mouth once every six months to ensure that there is no onset of this deadly disease.
Is it true that the dentist smells my breath?
This is one of those little-known facts about dentistry. We do, in fact, smell your breath when conducting the examination. This is not to get a whiff of yesterday’s tacos but is to detect any strange odors on your natural mouth smell. Strange odors provide clues to infection and bacterial build up, among other things that will lead us to investigate further. So yes, we do smell your breath when you are being examined.