If your teeth look white and bright and you don't notice any cavities, you may be tempted to skip your dental examination because you think it's a waste of time. However, there are several benefits of keeping your appointment to have a checkup and to have your teeth cleaned. Your dentist can spot other medical or dental problems you have that you may not know about. Here are some conditions your dentist may discover during an exam.

Oral Cancer

It's difficult to do a full-mouth exam on yourself, and even if you could, you might not spot the early signs of oral cancer. A discoloration of your gums, a small growth, or bleeding could be early warning signs. Finding oral cancer early helps you begin treatment before the cancer becomes advanced and causes serious problems that may not be reversible. Just like you want regular examinations for skin cancer, you want regular dental exams for oral cancer.


Diabetes affects every part of your body, including your mouth. Some symptoms seen in your mouth include swollen gums, bad breath, and dry mouth. Diabetes makes it difficult for your tissues to heal from injury and stay healthy. You might have sores or other gum problems that don't have an obvious explanation. When your dentist does an examination and sees problems like this, he or she may suspect that diabetes or another medical condition is the cause and suggest you see your family doctor for treatment.


Osteoporosis is thinning of the bones, and it is most often associated with the spine and hip bones. However, it affects your jaw too. A dentist can detect osteoporosis on a dental x-ray. Your dentist may even be able to tell if you are at high risk of developing osteoporosis by noting changes in the width of your jaw on a panoramic x-ray. With this knowledge, you can talk to your doctor about further testing and treatment.

Sleep Apnea

There is a link between teeth grinding and sleep apnea. You may have a problem with grinding your teeth at night and not be aware of it since you're sleeping. If you sleep alone and don't annoy anyone with the noise, you may never know you grind your teeth until a dentist tells you. You might have problems with a sore jaw, headaches, and feeling sleepy during the day and not know why. Your dentist can identify signs of teeth grinding by examining the enamel of your teeth. Detecting the problem early saves you from wearing down your teeth, but it also could be a warning sign that you have sleep apnea and need to discuss your symptoms with a doctor.

Regular dental checkups can give you early warnings of medical conditions you may not know about yet, especially if you don't see your doctor regularly. In addition to acting as a screening for health problems, regular dental visits protect your teeth from decay and your gums from gingivitis, so it's important to see your dentist on schedule even if it's inconvenient.