When you schedule your dental appointment, it may be for a dental cleaning and oral assessment, a restoration like a filling, or a cosmetic procedure like teeth whitening treatment. But you may be surprised to learn that your dentist also plays a critical role in your overall health.
These little-known services your dentist provides can improve your quality of life!
Oral Cancer Screenings
The survival rate in stage 1 and 2 oral cancer is typically 70-90% if caught early.
Oral cancer can affect the lips, gums, roof, and floor of your mouth, throat, tongue, cheeks, and sinuses. Symptoms include:
- White or red patches on your lips or inside your mouth
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing
- Chronic bad breath
- A sore throat
- Jaw pain
- Weight loss
An oral cancer screening is a simple and non-invasive procedure performed at your dental check-up. Your dentist uses a tongue depressor to examine the soft tissue in your mouth and under your tongue to check for any lesions or patches. Your dentist also feels your face and neck for any lumps.
If your dentist finds anything suspicious, they refer you to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.
Sleep Apnea Solutions
Adults with sleep apnea are at an elevated risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and mood disorders. Your dentist has the training and expertise to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
After evaluating your teeth, mouth, and mandibular joints, your dentist takes impressions of your mouth and fits you for a custom mouthguard.
The most common sleep apnea mouthguard is a mandibular advancement device (MAD). A MAD works by moving the lower jaw and tongue forward, reducing throat constriction, and preventing sleep apnea and snoring.
The appliance fits over the lower and upper parts of the jaw and is connected by metal hinges. You may be able to adjust how far the lower jaw moves depending on the appliance you are prescribed.
Although less common, your dentist may prescribe a tongue-retaining device that holds your tongue in a forward position while you sleep. This prevents your tongue from collapsing to the back of your mouth while sleeping, keeping your airway open, alleviating sleep apnea.
These affordable sleep apnea solutions are shown to be effective in clinical trials and don’t have invasive sleep apnea surgery risks.
Bruxism Night Guards
Bruxism or teeth grinding is a common problem that can negatively impact your oral health. Symptoms of bruxism include:
- Worn teeth
- Jaw getting stuck in the open position
- Tenderness in your face, neck, jaw joint, or ear
- Clicking or popping in the jaw joint
- Difficulty chewing
- An uncomfortable bite
- Tooth sensitivity
Your dentist assesses your teeth for signs of wear before taking impressions. The dental impressions are sent to a lab so the technicians can fabricate your customized night guard.
Your dentist can fit you for a custom night guard for either your upper or lower jaw. It protects your teeth from the wear and tear that grinding causes.
Schedule Your Dental Check-Up Today
Regular dental check-ups are important not only for your oral health but also for your overall wellbeing. At Steger Smiles, we transform your dental experience, ensuring you are informed about treatments that improve your health and can save your life.