Your dentist does more than you may think!
Almost everyone is familiar with the basic vital services dentists provide. They give us cleanings and checkups, fill cavities, and treat our teeth with sealant and fluoride to prevent tooth decay. They can even perform more complex procedures, like root canals, extractions, and implants.
Did you know your dentist may have other things to offer, though? From cosmetic improvements to cancer screenings, dentists provide a huge range of services for more than just your teeth.
Read on to find out more about the little-known but valuable things dentists can do. You may be able to take advantage of them at your next appointment!
Oral Cancer Screenings
Because it often goes undetected until it reaches a late stage, oral cancer is one of the most dangerous and fatal cancers out there. Smokers and people who chew tobacco are at the highest risk for oral cancer. Even so, it’s important to keep an eye out for it whether you’ve used tobacco before or not.
Dentists are trained to look for signs of mouth cancer before it spreads somewhere more severe, like your lymph nodes. You don’t even have to book a separate appointment for your screening; they can check while doing your regular cleaning. Many dentists make mouth cancer screenings a standard part of their checkups, but if you have a history of tobacco use, it doesn’t hurt to confirm that they’ll evaluate you while you’re already in the dental chair.
If you catch it early, oral cancer is very treatable. Call your dentist for a screening if you notice any discolored patches, hard spots, or sores that aren’t healing in your mouth.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a condition that causes pain and tightness in the joints on either side of your jaw. You might also feel a clicking or grinding sensation when you talk or eat. Over time, TMJ can sometimes lead to “lockjaw,” which makes it difficult to open and close your mouth.
If you grind or clench your teeth, you’re at a higher risk of developing TMJ. Thankfully, your dentist will be able to recognize the symptoms and patterns of wear on your teeth and can recommend a treatment plan. They may set you up with custom mouth guards to stop your tooth grinding at night, prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medication, or give you an injection to reduce pain and tightness.
Your smile is one of the most important parts of making a great first impression, so it makes sense to want to improve the appearance of your teeth. If your pearly whites have gotten a bit stained and dull after years of drinking coffee, tea, or soda, you might be wondering how you can get them back to their former color.
Before you reach for store-bought whitening strips, check to see if your dentist offers teeth whitening services. Their professional-grade equipment and whitening solutions can give you much better results in a fraction of the time.
Have you ever wished you could have a facelift for your mouth? Amazingly, that procedure exists! Sometimes called a “gum lift,” gum reshaping is a way to correct prominent, uneven, or overgrown gums and reduce the appearance of short teeth.
Gum reshaping is a quick outpatient procedure in which your dentist will remove excess tissue along your gumline, often by using a laser tool. After the tissue is removed, the dentist will cover your gums with a protective putty as they heal. In a few weeks, they’ll be back to normal, and you’ll no longer have a “gummy” smile.
This procedure can also help treat gum disease by removing infected tissue and improving the fit of crowns.
Bone Grafting and Rejuvenation
Even though they seem fairly static and unchanging, your bones are always tearing down old cells and replacing them with new ones. This property is extremely beneficial when you’ve experienced bone loss in your jaw due to periodontal disease or tooth decay.
A comprehensive dentist can take a small amount of grafting material—often from a human or animal donor or made from a synthetic substance—and implant it in the area where you’ve experienced bone erosion. This procedure helps brand new bone grow at the grafting site, replacing the old bone that was lost.
Not only can a jawbone graft improve the appearance of your smile by filling in sunken areas beneath your gums, but it can also increase your chances of qualifying for a dental implant after tooth loss. Bone grafts can also stabilize teeth that have gotten loose due to jaw erosion.
Have you taken advantage of all the services dentists can offer?
Dentists are experienced medical professionals who can do a lot more than repair cavities. If you’re only seeing your dentist for twice-annual cleanings, you may be missing out on valuable opportunities for care. Talk to your dentist to find out how they can help you improve the look of your smile, relieve pain, and more.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive dentist who provides a wide range of services, Dr. Brandon Tyler of Duvall Dental Center can help. He and his experienced team perform all the procedures listed above and more. To ask any questions or book an appointment, please feel free to contact us online or give us a call.