Well for a start we at Merton dental in Wimbledon do not call it a dental check-up but describe what we actually do and that is more appropriately termed a “Dental Health Check” or to be precise a 15-point dental health check. Now before you all start to scream that it is a play on words and it means the same thing, please allow me to explain to you the patient pathway when it comes to a dental health check at our practice.
During every dental health check at our practice we will carry out a 15-point review. We will…
- Find out how healthy you feel your mouth is now
- Check any problems you think you might have
- Review your medical status
- Understand any lifestyle risks that could affect your oral health
- Fully assess your home care routine
- Provide a progress check
- Inspect the appearance of your teeth and gums
- Provide a lymphadenopathy check
- Undertake a temporomandibular joint check & ascertain any associated bruxing habits
- Include a complimentary oral cancer check
- Evaluate the health of your teeth
- Look at the health and stability of any restorations
- Appraise the health of your gums
- Ensure any plaque is under control
- Provide a bone health review
Gone are the days when you sat in the dental chair opened your mouth and the dentist scrapped around with this pointy thing to see if anything hurts and then to be told you can close your mouth now as you walked out of the room after been told see you in 6 months’ time. On the odd occasion, you might get the dentist to do a scrape and polish of your lower front teeth if you were lucky. Those days are truly gone with the whole experience been replaced with a much more thorough examination of not just the teeth but the whole face, gums, mucosa, jaw joints and the underlying bone.
Oral health and general health are so much more interlinked than we originally thought, it is now mandatory to check your medical history and its effect on your dental health and vice versa. For instance, diabetics are more prone to gum disease and the more stable the diabetes, the less impact it will have on gum health. Certain medications can cause issues that will lead to dental disease whether affecting the gums or the teeth. Some medicines can cause the gums to grow excessively hindering oral hygiene procedures while other medications can cause a dry mouth making the patient more prone to dental decay.
Your lifestyle risks are evaluated routinely at a dental health check as both smoking and drinking alcohol have deleterious consequences on not only the overall health but dental health not to mention the risk of developing oral or other cancers.
While palpating around the face before looking inside your mouth, the dentist is looking for an unexplained Lymphadenopathy where a lymph gland is felt but there is no obvious cause which maybe a sign of undiagnosed malignancy. Once inside the mouth, the check includes all the mucosa including the cheeks and lips, the hard and soft palate, the tongue, the floor of the mouth and all the way back to the tonsillar area, for any lump bump ulcer or unexplained change in texture that may signify the presence of oral cancer.
Checking the way your joints operate by placing the hands on the side of your jaw is a way of detecting para-functional habits such a grinding or clenching in your sleep which may have long-term consequences including pain, headaches, tooth fractures or even splitting teeth in half.
Once all the extra-oral and intra-oral checks are done and only then does a dentist then turn their attention to the health of the teeth, existing restorations and the gums. Checking the teeth is no longer a case of whether there is decay or not but also a check for signs of tooth surface loss whether due to physiological wear or pathological cause such as abrasion, erosion or attrition.
The existing condition of fillings, inlays, veneers or crowns all must be checked for serviceability or replacement if needed while gums are checked for inflammation or pocketing indicating more advanced gum disease.
The aetiology of gum disease is multi-factorial but is mainly due to the presence of plaque so a review of current home oral hygiene care is essential in ensuring long term health as unfortunately dental plaque or the bacterial biofilm around the cuff of gum around the neck of the teeth will continually grow and establish unless it is disturbed by daily home oral hygiene procedures such as brushing, flossing or using small brushes between the teeth.
For the areas that we cannot see or have direct access to, we usually need the help of some X-rays which not only show up decay on the back teeth in difficult to see areas in between teeth on the back of the mouth but also show the level of bone and its consistency that is holding the teeth in place in your mouth. The bone levels are also a very important indicator for the diagnosis of gum disease.
The 15-point dental health check is for all our routine examinations but we supplement this check for our initial examinations for new patients with added extensive intra-oral photography. The patient is invited to discuss their dental health while looking at the inside of their mouth with high resolution images and this is further followed up by a special dental health report with all the images and X-rays sent to the patient to digest further.
So, if you think you can benefit from such a comprehensive check of your mouth then why not give us a call at Merton Dental in Wimbledon on 02085441122 or email on [email protected] or use the contact form on www.mertondental.co.uk