By scheduling a periodic appointment for a checkup and professional dental cleaning, your dentist can help to keep your smile looking good and functioning at its best. At every checkup visit, your medical and dental histories are carefully reviewed and a comprehensive examination of your mouth, jaws, and surrounding areas of the head and neck is performed. While checking for the development of common dental conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease and doing a screening for oral cancer, your dentist will also make note of any signs of problematic health issues that may have originated elsewhere in the body. Experiencing dry mouth, bad breath, gum problems, ulcerations or other oral lesions may be indicative of a serious underlying systemic condition. As part of a comprehensive clinical exam, the dentist will assess the function of your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and your bite (occlusion) for any impairment or misalignment. The consequences of various dietary choices, eating disorders, harmful habits, certain medications and inadequate oral hygiene practices may also be detected at this time.