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Examinations

At Thorndon Dental, dental examinations are given the importance they deserve.
An examination is the best way to keep a close eye on your mouth and determine if any problems are starting. The goal is to identify a problem area and act preventatively to try to avoid deterioration in that area.

Dentistry today is all about minimal intervention, trying not to lose tooth structure by either decay or drilling.

However, your dentist is not just looking at your teeth during an examination:

The condition of your gums can indicate an underlying health problem that had not yet become obvious to you in other ways for example diabetes, gut disorders etc.
Prolonged ulcers can be a sign of a poor response to healing and can be as a result of many underlying health issues. Often your dentist is the first to notice this and can be instrumental in directing you to another health professional for further care.

Good saliva flow is essential to the health of your mouth.
Your dentist can tell immediately if your saliva quality and quantity is within the normal range, and can advise you of ways to remedy a poor saliva flow or quality.

Saliva is a natural buffer against the acidity of foods and drinks that we consume, as it is an alkaline solution. It also contains important anti-bacterial properties and immune cells that fight against bacteria trying to become established on your teeth.
Saliva also has natural enzymes that begin the breakdown of food before it reaches your stomach, and acts as a lubricant to aid swallowing. These properties are all enormously important in the conservation of your teeth and also to process your food successfully.

Oral tissues can have changes to their cells that can lead to cancer, just like any other tissue in the body.
Your dentist checks your gums, cheeks and tongue for any changes that may indicate cells acting differently. A persistent white mark often results from friction for example a tooth rubbing against you cheek which is completely normal and healthy, but a white mark can also indicate a change to cells that can be pre-cancerous.

Whilst this is quite rare, it is something your dentist will always check for, so that any minor change can be assessed very early and prevent any cancerous growth having the chance to develop.

Muscles and joints of your face have an impact on your mouth and how the teeth contact.
Your temporo-mandibular joint is the joint up by your ear where your lower jaw connects to your skull. Complaints from this joint are common especially in people who clench or grind their teeth at night. Often the patient is unaware that they do this.
The joint can become inflamed just like any other joint in your body and often needs attention to correct it. Physiotherapy and anti-inflammatory drugs are often employed to help with pain, and a night guard may be indicated to balance the teeth and help even out the bite so that the teeth and jaw are stable during the night, preventing or easing the joint problems.

Stomach acid can have a surprising impact on teeth.
People can suffer from what is known as Silent Reflux, which is when stomach acids seep up into the back of the mouth while the patient is asleep. Because there is often no discomfort associated with this, the patient has no idea that their teeth are being bathed in acid at night.
The patient’s enamel is softened and slowly dissolved by the acid, known to dentists as erosion. This can sometimes make your teeth sensitive, but not always.
Your dentist is likely to notice the characteristic erosion pattern of your teeth and be able to suggest ways to prevent this, not only to protect your teeth also but to prevent future throat conditions and problems.

As you can see, there are many aspects of your oral and general health that your dentist is likely to notice when you attend for your examination. The importance of a regular examination cannot be over-emphasised.

Thorndon Dental • 246 Tinakori Rd Thorndon Wellington • 04 472 8353
Dentists and staff include: Parm Gill Andrew McKenna Sophie McKenna Colleen Loo Hannah Kelly Michelle Rochelle hygienists Vanessa and Michelle and administration Anne