What Can a Dentist Detect During a Dental Exam?

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If you never miss your recommended yearly dental exam (and cleaning), congratulations – you’re extending the healthy life of your teeth and gums while contributing to a beautiful smile.

But have you ever wondered, “What can a dentist really detect during a dental exam?” Sure, they’re looking for cavities and tooth decay, but can your dentist uncover other health conditions as well?

The answer is yes. When you come in for a comprehensive dental exam with one of our experienced doctors at Advanced Dentistry of Centre County in State College, PA, we can identify the signs and symptoms of a number of health conditions – and not all of them are located in your mouth.

Cavities and tooth decay

The most common oral health issue found during a dental exam are cavities and tooth decay. More than 90% of people will deal with a cavity or some level of tooth decay during their lifetime. A dentist will notice the tell-tale signs of tooth decay, such as white spots, pitting, and holes, while any symptoms you tell them about, like tooth sensitivity and pain, can further confirm it.

Gum disease

Another common oral health issue, gum disease (or periodontal disease), affects almost half of the population. Gingivitis is an irritation of the gums typically caused by poor oral hygiene habits. Symptoms of gingivitis will be obvious during your dental exam as your gums may be red, swollen, inflamed, puffy, tender, receding, or bleeding. Addressing gum disease early is crucial so it can be stopped before it progresses into advanced periodontal disease, which can cause irreparable bone loss, tooth loss, and more.

Oral cancer

Every year more than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral or oropharyngeal cancer. A dentist can see or feel discoloration, lumps, or spreading masses in the gums, cheeks, tongue, jaw, neck, and throat areas that may be an indicator of oral cancer. If something of concern is found, they can order further testing and/or a biopsy. Smoking, using tobacco products, and drinking alcohol can significantly increase the risk of developing oral cancer.

Tooth damage

Maybe you bit down on something hard and felt something funny but then forgot about it. During a dental exam, any unnoticed chips, cracks, or other damage will be uncovered, allowing you to have it repaired. At Advanced Dentistry of Centre County in State College, PA, we offer a variety of cosmetic dentistry treatments to restore and enhance your smile.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common condition that occurs most frequently when patients are asleep. Bruxism can not only cause excessive tooth wear and damage, but it can also cause jaw pain, headaches, sleep problems, and more. The most common sign is teeth that are worn down due to constant grinding and wear.

TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction)

Often associated with teeth clenching and grinding, but also occurring independently, TMD is a condition affecting the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. People suffering with TMD experience jaw and neck pain, headaches, limited jaw movement, clicking and/or popping, and other symptoms.

Chronic diseases and conditions

Did you know that your dentist can often detect the presence of serious diseases and conditions before you even may be aware of them? There are many health issues and diseases that can be detected by changes in your oral health, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
  • Anemia
  • Kidney disease
  • HIV

Protect your overall health with a regular dental exam

Don’t put off your yearly recommended comprehensive dental exam. Protect not only your oral health but also your overall health by scheduling your dental exam with a member of our expert team at Advanced Dentistry of Centre County in State College, PA. Let us detect any possible dental health or other health issues with a regular dental exam to keep you healthy and happy with a beautiful smile.

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