5 Things Your Dentist Does at Your Checkup

Rarely does anyone look forward to visiting the dentist. But like many things in life, just because it isn’t fun doesn’t mean it’s not good for you. Part of the problem might be that most people don’t know what’s happening during the visit beyond the scraping and polishing part. Here’s a quick breakdown of five things your dentist does at your checkup. Knowing what’s happening might make the process easier and should provide some peace of mind!

Cancer Screening

Dentists and dental hygienists don’t just look at your teeth. They keep an eye out for things that impact your overall health, including signs of oral cancer. Your dentist will inspect your tongue, cheeks, palate, neck, lymph nodes, and gums for signs of infection, red or white patches, and sores. Checking for signs of oral cancer is part of the service they provide, and since they see you twice a year, they can help you catch cancer early.


You already know that your dentist takes X-rays of your teeth, but do you know why? They do look for signs of cavities, of course, but they watch for other conditions as well. Beyond your teeth, they check out your jawbone, watching for hidden evidence of tumors, bone decay, swelling, shifting or impacted teeth, and more. Dentists use the latest technology to stay on top of such things and give you the most detailed information about your oral health.

Cleaning and Polishing

This step is the part that everyone remembers most about a visit to the dentist. Cleaning and polishing can feel intrusive, unpleasant, and even painful, but the truth is that the more you stay on top of brushing and flossing, the less work the dentist or hygienist must do. Even if you’re dedicated to regular brushing, the dentist has special tools to prevent plaque from building up in places you can’t reach, ensuring a deep clean.

Tongue Inspection

Your tongue can “talk” in more ways than one. Your dentist inspects your tongue for size, texture, coating, color, sores, and more. Such symptoms can be evidence of minor issues or greater concerns. They can even give advice on treating bad breath, discoloration of the tongue, and other common issues.

Checking Your Salivary Glands

Here’s the last of our five things your dentist does at your checkup. Salivary glands may seem icky, but they’re vitally important. Existing just below our tongues, they keep our mouths hydrated, help break down food, and aid in speech as well as taste. Your dentist will check and see if your salivary glands are making enough saliva and free from sores or lumps.

Hopefully, understanding what your dental health professionals are up to will make your next visit to the dentist more informed and more pleasant!

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Written by Logan Voss

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