Routine examination, cleaning, and X-rays
Some patients come to see me because they have a problem; others come regularly. I’m happy that I have been able to influence some patients to take better care of their teeth and their health. Interestingly, some of the patients who are most responsive to the advice I offer are young people. Many have never had guidance before, and they’re eager to know how to take care of their teeth and their health.
Though it may seem routine, the dental exam is more important than most patients realize.
During that exam, I look for many problems, some of which are potentially life-threatening. They include:
- Existing cavities—Are there any, and if so, how extensive is the decay?
- Jaw alignment—Does opening and closing the jaw cause pain?
- Evidence of teeth grinding—Is there excessive loss of tooth enamel and pain on chewing?
- Excessive plaque and tartar—Is there evidence of the need to floss and to improve brushing technique?
- Signs of cancer—In its earliest stages, oral cancer is curable. I want to be sure my patients get this complete and potentially life-saving service. Therefore, I check the glands in the neck, including the thyroid, the lips, insides of the cheeks, the glands that run along the lower jaw, all surfaces of the tongue, and the back of the throat.