It’s that time of year when everyone seems to make a New Year’s resolution. It may be an entire list, or just one thing, but one of the most important items that should be on your New Year’s resolution list is a commitment to healthier teeth and gums.

Healthier teeth and gums begin with a trip to your dentist. Schedule an appointment for early January for a checkup, especially if has been sometime since you have had your mouth checked out.

A comprehensive examination is usually in order if you haven’t seen your dentist lately. During the checkup, your dentist will check the inside of your mouth as well as your teeth and gums looking for any problems or signs of disease. Your neck, head, TMJ, lymph nodes, and salivary glands will be checked to make sure there is no swelling, bleeding or other abnormalities.

If you are having a comprehensive examination, your dentist will also check for periodontal disease poking your gums gently, making sure that there is no bleeding. Your gums will also be checked for redness and swelling. A special probe may also be used to measure how deep the pockets are between your gums and your teeth. If the pockets are 3 millimeters deep or more, this may be an indication of gingivitis or periodontal disease. If your dentist determines that you do have gum disease a referral to a specialist, or periodontist, may be recommended.

Your comprehensive examination will also include a bite check and a clinical examination of your teeth. Your dentist will check for decay by looking at the surface of each tooth using a mirror in order to see the back of your teeth. An explorer, which is a tool that your dentist uses to detect cavities, may also be used. Your dental restorations including crowns, fillings, bridges, implants, or dentures will also be checked to make sure that they are not cracked or chipped. The teeth surrounding your dental restorations will also be examined for dental caries.

During your exam, your dentist may also take X-rays to detect decay or any other oral problems that you may be experiencing as not all issues can be seen during the comprehensive examination. X-rays are also used so that your dentist can determine if there is bone loss or the need for root canal therapy.

This year make a new addition to your New Year’s resolution list and schedule an appointment with your dentist. 

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