Your general dentist is the most qualified professional to make sure your oral health is in tip-top shape. But a general dentist usually only spends a few minutes examining you during your visit. The dental hygienist, on the other hand, spends the majority of time with you as he or she cleans and checks your teeth. Ever wondered what your dental hygienist can tell you about your oral hygiene habits? Today we’ll be discussing the kind of issues that your hygienist will be looking for at your next dental exam, and how these clues can indicate the status of your overall health.

Dental Detectives

In addition to cleaning your teeth, your hygienist will spend time assessing the overall health of your teeth, gums, and mouth. The dental hygienists at your general dental office are thoroughly trained on oral health, specifically the health of your teeth and gum tissues.

Your teeth reveal more about you than you might think, which gives your dental hygienists an insight into your life, habits, and the way you’re caring for your teeth. With that information, your hygienist can help you learn how to improve and maintain your oral health.

Dental Clues

Your teeth and gums hold clues to your dental health as well as your overall health and wellness. In fact, hygienists can identify early signs of anemia, diabetes, and even heart issues.

Here are a few of the things that your dental exam could reveal:

  • Oral Cancer – Your dental hygienist will check your mouth for signs of oral cancer. These signs may include abnormal lumps, bumps, skin discoloration, or open sores that can occur on the soft tissues of the mouth. Keeping up with your regular visits to your general dentist is the best way to detect and prevent oral cancer. If your hygienist sees any concerning signs, you’ll be referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.
  • Thumb-Sucking – Pediatric hygienists are well-versed in looking for signs of thumb sicking in younger patients. A habitual thumb-sucker will often have front teeth that protrude, which can cause orthodontic problems. Kids who suck their thumbs may have a difficult time keeping their teeth clean or speaking properly, so it’s an important issue to address. Your dental hygienist and general dentist will have tips on how to stop the habit.
  • Sinus Infection – A toothache is a common reason for patients to see their general dentist outside of regular visits. But your dental hygienist will help determine the source of the pain, which can sometimes be a sinus infection. The roots of your upper teeth are positioned near the sinuses, and when there’s an infection brewing in the sinuses, you might feel the pain in a tooth. A dental hygienist will be able to tell you where the problem is occurring.
  • Nail-Biting – Biting your nails can actually cause damage to your teeth that you may not see or feel, but your dental hygienist will see the signs right away. Signs of nail-biting include cracks or chips in the teeth or abnormal wear of the tooth enamel.
  • Vitamin Deficiency – Certain vitamin deficiencies can cause changes in your oral health, and your hygienist will let you know if there appears to be any signs of deficiencies. These changes may include increased infections, longer healing times, bleeding gum tissue, and the sloughing off of tissue.
  • Poor Dental Hygiene Habits – We’ve all been guilty of “cramming” for a dental exam by trying to hide months of bad habits with one night of good brushing and flossing. A dental hygienist will pick up on this right away upon examining tender, bleeding gums.

The best way to wow your dental hygienist at your next checkup is to consistently practice good oral hygiene in the months between visits. This means you should be brushing twice a day for at least two minutes, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist twice a year for a dental cleaning and an exam.

Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we believe the best way to care for your dental health is to see your dentist for regular cleanings and schedule a visit at the first sign of trouble. Our specially-trained endodontists are ready to restore your smile and relieve your pain. Contact us today to schedule your evaluation at our Pueblo or Colorado Springs locations!