Partner With Your Dentist in Maintaining Your Health

When you open your mouth, you might be surprised at what your dentist can see.

Your teeth, gums and oral cavity might show clues to health issues you may or may not be aware of, including oral cancer, medication induced dry mouth, diabetes, stress induced injury, heart conditions, kidney problems, drug or alcohol use and much more.

Many recent studies have shown relationships between oral health and overall health, although researchers are still probing to define more clearly how certain oral conditions relate to medical conditions.

It's important to provide your dentist with a thorough health history and give him or her updates whenever you have a change in health status or medications, or if you smoke or drink alcohol. During regular checkups, your dentist will examine your mouth for any changes or developments, including oral cancer, periodontal disease or other problems.

For many oral health problems, your dentist can offer multiple treatment options for dental care. These options may vary in complexity, durability and cost. Working together, you and your dentist can choose the treatment options that best meet your needs.

For more information about the dentist-patient relationship, visit the American Dental Association Web site at

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.