What do we do when checking your teeth?
If you ever wondered what do dentists look for in your teeth when you show them your mouth and open up, this article is for you.
Hygiene of your mouth
Presence of caries
Position of caries
Depth of caries
Extent of caries
Involvement of root canals with caries or not
Alignment of teeth
And that is just to name a few. In fact, the comprehensive list goes way beyond these perplexing parameters, and by force of habit, all those items are simultaneously checked to every tooth, as soon as you walk in for the first time. For example, did you know that with each patient, we like to know if they have underlying systemic conditions, for example there could be allergies to Latex from gloves or Nickel in the metal braces. I personally had the unfortunate experience of getting rashes and puffy eyes by Latex sensitivity back while I was still in college, before even going into dental school.
What happened to the adage of “Look, Listen, and Feel”?
In the days leading to our graduation, one of our doctor teachers told us that we shouldn’t run a list. We should look, listen and feel our patients. When we look at teeth, we also have to listen not only to our patient concern but to the tooth. Furthermore, we have to feel the tooth. If we listen to the tooth, it may sound dull on tapping, or it may sound like the neighboring teeth. The significance of which can be interpreted by the lack of bone or the abundance of bone around said tooth, denoting a periodontal problem in the former case. The feel part is when we grip the tooth, does it move as easily or does it stay firm? If its the former case, now we must listen to our patients saying that they might have a Type I Diabetes Mellitus, or that they dont brush as often as they want to. The picture becomes clearer with these investigations.
Nowadays, there is less emphasis on the listen and feel, and more emphasis on x-rays, and the looks of teeth. How can one omit that half the tooth can not be seen? And more, how can one overlook, that the tooth is not only their resposible domain, but also its neighboring structures, which includes bones and soft tissues, like the tongue, the cheeks, the lips, the nose, essentially, the face.
Therefore, one must always know that not all dental consultations involve taking photos and xrays to the mouth, but also, emergency dictates a physical examination to ensure the root cause of any problem is tackled.
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