10 Things You Never Knew Your Dentist Does at Every Dental Checkup

10 Things You Never Knew Your Dentist Does at Every Dental CheckupGregory skeens d.d.s.encinitas family dentistry


You know it’s important to keep your dental checkup date with your dentist every six months, but do you know exactly why?

During each dental checkup, your dentist performs a number of critical tasks that help to keep your mouth healthy and protected… even if you don’t realize he’s doing them at all!

Check out the following 10 things you never knew your dentist does at every dental checkup to gain more appreciation for the importance of each and every six-month appointment you schedule.


One of the most important purposes of a dental checkup is for your dentist to take x-rays of your teeth and jaw bone. These detailed x-ray images reveal critical information about the condition and health of your mouth.

By taking x-rays, your hygienist and dentist can identify exactly what’s happening beneath the surfaces of your mouth in order to find, diagnose, and treat issues that may be invisible to the naked eye.

If your x-rays indicate bone decay, swelling, tumors, shifting teeth, impacted teeth, or any other serious issue, your dentist can respond immediately. This is especially important to catch destructive, fast-paced diseases that don’t cause noticeable symptoms.

Comprehensive Visual Examination

Every regular dental checkup also gives your dentist the chance to assess the state of your visible teeth and gums with a comprehensive examination. Your dentist can identify potential problems that you may never notice. During a dental exam, you can expect your dentist to do the following:

  • Examine the gums and tongue
  • Search for signs of gum disease
  • Check for loose and broken teeth
  • Assess the health of tissues inside your mouth
  • Check your bite for alignment
  • Look for visual evidence of decay
  • Check for damaged dental work, such as fillings or crowns

Even with the best mirrors, this type of comprehensive dental exam isn’t something you can do at home. Only an experienced dentist can properly perform a visual exam to assess the condition of your mouth and recommend future treatments accordingly.

Remove Plaque and Tartar

Every morning and night, you brush (and hopefully floss!) to remove plaque from your teeth. If plaque has the chance to sit on your teeth for too long, it accumulates into tartar and causes inflammation, bleeding, cavities, and gum disease.

Unfortunately, brushing and flossing doesn’t always eliminate all signs of plaque and tartar. Your dentist uses specialized tools to remove plaque and tartar from the areas of your mouth you can’t reach. Receiving this professional dental cleaning twice a year ensures that your mouth is protected from disease.

You can expect your dental professional to perform a comprehensive cleaning during every dental checkup to:

  • Scrape away plaque and tartar on and between the teeth
  • Polish the teeth
  • Floss between all teeth
  • Apply fluoride, if necessary

Bite Evaluation

Your bite is the way your teeth fit together when you press your upper and lower jaw closed. Evaluating your bite gives your dentist important insights into the alignment of your mouth and any potential orthodontic work you may need to correct your bite.

This is one of the reasons it’s so important to see the same dentist consistently; only your regular dentist will notice when your bite shifts and poses a threat to the overall health of your teeth. Adults can use clear aligners and other subtle orthodontic solutions to shift their teeth back into place.

Salivary Gland Inspection

Do you know how important saliva is? It’s not just spit! In fact, saliva performs four essential functions that keep your mouth protected from bacteria and able to easily chew and digest food. That’s why it’s so important for your dentist to evaluate your salivary glands at every dental checkup. By doing so, he ensures the glands are producing a sufficient quantity of saliva. Without enough saliva, bacteria accumulate in your mouth to cause bad breath, cavities, and infection.

Tongue Evaluation

Your tongue also says a lot about the condition of your mouth, so your dentist evaluates its color and texture. A bright red tongue, for example, may indicate a folic acid or vitamin B12 deficiency, while a dark tongue signals poor hygiene or diabetes.

Tooth Polishing

Of course, your dentist also takes the opportunity during each exam to polish your teeth to perfection. This is done after excess plaque and tartar have been removed. The polish adds an extra shine to your teeth and even makes it harder for plaque and tartar to stick around in the future.


Early Detection

Through the process of your x-rays, visual examination, and dental cleaning, your dentist remains alert for any early signs of disease or oral complications:

  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Discoloration
  • Nerve damage
  • Alignment

The earlier your dentist can identify potential issues and recommend the appropriate course of treatment, the more efficiently he can prevent future damage and protect your smile. However, it’s nearly impossible to achieve early detection without regular six-month appointments.

Oral Cancer Screening

The oral cancer screening is one of the most critical yet overlooked elements of a dental appointment. More than 10,000 people die every year in the U.S from oral cancer. It’s an aggressive disease that’s difficult to treat in late stages. This makes early detection vital.

Oral cancer can develop anywhere along your lips, cheek lining, gums, tongue, floor of mouth, roof of mouth, or throat. It is caused by dangerous changes to cells in the mouth tissue. Certain risk factors increase your risk of oral cancer, including the heavy use of tobacco and alcohol, excessive sun exposure to the lips, and the disease HPV.

Be sure to stay alert for the following symptoms of oral cancer and let your dentist know immediately if you’re experiencing any of these problems:

  • A mouth sore or lump that doesn’t heal after a few weeks
  • Red or white patches
  • Pain and tenderness in the mouth or along the lips
  • Unusual difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • A change in your bite
  • Sensation of something being caught in the throat

Since early detection catches oral cancer before it has the opportunity to fully develop and spread through and beyond your mouth, this simple examination makes it more likely that your dentist and doctor can treat your cancer into remission.

10 Things You Never Knew Your Dentist Does at Every Dental Checkup

Getting to Know You

Last but certainly not least, beyond all of the work in your mouth, your dentist also takes the opportunity to get to know you during every appointment!

Dr. Greg Skeens and his team at Encinitas Family Dentistry take this responsibility to heart. They are devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of your smile while also getting to know the person behind the smile.


Schedule your appointment today to reap the benefits of your six-month dental checkup with Dr. Skeens.

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Dr. Gregory Skeens Encinitas Family Dentistry

Welcome to the Encinitas dental office of Gregory Skeens, JR., DDS. We are your home for caring dental treatment that supports superior oral health and helps you achieve the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted. Our modern facility is equipped with cutting-edge technology and our team is here to make your visit enjoyable and relaxing.

We take a truly individualized approach to dentistry, which is why our practice is so popular. After every treatment, Encinitas dentist Dr. Skeens personally makes follow- up phone calls to patients to ensure that they are feeling well. Your comfort and well-being are of ultimate importance.

Gregory W. Skeens, DDS | 519 Encinitas Blvd Suite 104, Encinitas, CA 92024 | Phone: (760) 944-9288 | Text: (760) 933-3077 | Email: office@gregskeensdds.com

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