Oral health is often secondary to overall physical health for many people. Dental health is important as oral health ailments can be linked to other health issues. Like a doctor’s visit, many people only see their dentist when something is wrong. Prevention is important for both physical and dental health. Many potentially serious dental problems can be adverted by regular dental visits and check-ups. A dental visit means being examined by a doctor of oral health capable of diagnosing and treating conditions that can range from minor and routine to complex and serious.
Both the patient and the dentist have roles to play in the patient’s oral health. A healthy mouth requires adequate, daily hygiene on the patient’s part. This includes properly brushing one’s teeth and flossing. Good oral health also needs the assessment, diagnosis, and care that only a dentist can provide.
Believe it or not, the knowledge and scope of the dentists’ diagnosis go beyond teeth and gums. Dentists examine and assess the condition of their patients’ head, neck and jaw muscles as well as the condition of the tongue, salivary glands and nervous system of the neck, head and face. A dentist can detect problems in these areas and refer you to a medical professional to have the issue looked at further and treated.
The Dentist’s Role
While it is the patient who has the greatest impact on preventing oral health issues, the dentist can provide dental health assessments, diagnosis, and treatment. Both are needed. According to the American Dental Association, the roles of the dentist include the following:
- Diagnose oral diseases
- Promote oral health and disease prevention
- Create treatment plans to maintain or restore patient the oral health
- Interpret diagnostic tests such as x-rays
- Ensure the safe administration of anesthetics
- Monitor growth and development of the teeth and jaws
- Ensure safe and effective oral care
- Perform procedures such as biopsies, diagnostic tests for chronic or infectious diseases, salivary gland function, and screening tests for oral cancer.
- Detect early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body
- Refer patients to dental specialists or physicians
Your dentist does more than just clean your teeth and checks your gums. Just as your doctor is an expert in diseases and conditions of the body, your dentist is an expert in the workings of your mouth. They know the symptoms of potentially devastating diseases and can provide early detection and referral.
Patients are encouraged to visit the dentist at least twice a year. The more often one goes in; the early diseases can be caught and treated. Frequent trips to the dentist can also boost the prevention of diseases. If you haven’t already scheduled your six-month check-up, be sure to set one up with our experienced dentists at Galleria Dentistry. The routine check-up can bring early detection of a potential health issue you may not know about, and it could save you from future health complications and pain.