While oral health has significantly improved, a vast majority of adults in the US still suffer from the impacts of poor dental health. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that up to 46% of Americans aged above 30 years show signs of gum disease while 1 in 4 adults above 20 years of age have untreated tooth decay and cavities.
These startling statistics on the high prevalence of oral and other periodontal diseases only shows that many Americans still find it difficult to maintain regular dental check ups. This is perhaps due to today’s busy lifestyle or fear and anxiety associated with a visit to the dental clinic. Yet, having regular check-ups with your dentist is essential to maintain good oral and dental health and to improve your overall well-being.
Putting off these check-ups, or refusing to go to the dentist at all, often leads to complications, pain, and costly procedures that could easily have been avoided. Here are a few reasons why it is super important to schedule regular appointments with your dentist.
Reasons You Need Regular Dental Check Ups
1. Check And Clean Plaque And Tartar Accumulation
Even with regular teeth brushing and flossing, you’ll still have bacteria in your mouth. These naturally-occurring bacteria mix with proteins and other food byproducts to form plaque. Dental plaque is a clear, sticky layer of bacteria that hardens and builds up to become tartar. Tartar – also called calculus – is a rough and porous layer that is impossible to get rid of through regular brush or flossing.
These bacteria buildups on your teeth attack the teeth enamel and could lead to teeth cavities and periodontal diseases. Regular dental check ups remove this bacterial layer hence preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Your dentist or oral hygienist has special tools that scrape off the tartar even from hard-to-reach places through an easy, painless, and fast procedure. This not only improves your health and well-being but also improves your smile dramatically.
2. Early Gum Disease Detection And Intervention
Regular dental check-ups are one of your best defenses against gum disease. If you keep procrastinating your next dental check-up and teeth cleaning, then you are giving room for unwanted bacteria and infection to invade your mouth.
Unlike toothaches and tooth sensitivity, gum diseases are usually painless and do not cause any apparent discomfort. If left unchecked, bacteria buildup on gums and teeth could lead to gingivitis. This could then develop to periodontitis and inevitably cause teeth loss.
Dentists have unique skillsets and specialized tools to identify any issues on your teeth and gums that could escalate to gum disease. Regular dental check-ups provide an opportunity to identify any unusual spots in your mouth and on your gums. During the visits, your dentist will deep clean your teeth and get rid of stubborn plaque. This deep clean by far exceeds even the most assiduous brushing.
The dentist may recommend teeth scaling or polishing to maintain your oral health in-between visits. The early intervention ensures that any problem on your teeth or gum is remedied before it escalates.
If your dentist or dental hygienist identifies any signs or symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis, they will deep clean your teeth to get rid of stubborn bacteria and prescribe a treatment regimen to treat the gum disease at home. They might also show you the correct home care to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
3. Early Detection Of Oral And Throat Cancer
Oral cancer is a growing problem globally that is particularly prevalent among people with risky behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol usage. Early detection of oral cancer allows for treatment when it’s still small and hasn’t spread. Regular visits to the dentist allow for early detection of the oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers.
During the routine dental check-ups, your dentists will examine your mouth and identify any oral abnormalities and early signs of oral and oropharyngeal cancers (and pre-cancers) such as any white patches, sore, or lumps in the mouth.
Ensuring that you visit your dentists every six months drastically increases the chances of catching oral cancer in time for successful treatments. The oral examination usually is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that only takes a few minutes to complete. Remember that we offer free oral cancer screenings for all our patients.
4. Treat Bad Breath (Halitosis)
Bad breath is a pervasive problem that can ruin a person’s esteem and confidence. There are a bunch of issues that could cause bad breath, including diet and dental hygiene. Usually, the moist, warm conditions in your mouth provide an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. As the naturally-occurring bacteria break down food particles in your mouth, they release sulfur, which leads to the unpleasant mouth odor.
While a change of diet and daily oral hygiene can get rid of the bad breath, chronic bad breath could be a telltale sign for an underlying issue. It can be a sign of dental plaque buildup or even point to periodontal disease.
Regular dental check ups ensure that the issue is detected early enough and treated before it develops into more serious dental problems. Your dentists will rate the bad breath and examine if you have any oral disease.
If none, the dentist may recommend additional tests to identify if you have other conditions such as respiratory tract infections, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, or other gastrointestinal problems that could be causing the halitosis.
The dentist will recommend prescription products and oral rinses to treat the bad breath problem or refer you to a general practitioner for further examination to find out the cause and treatment of the bad breath. Ultimately, having a treatment plan that improves your breath will immensely boost your self-esteem and confidence.
5. Keeping Bad Habits In Check
This is perhaps one of the less talked benefits of going for a dental check up. Most of us have bad habits that have negative impacts on our health. Yet, we only realize how harmful these habits are when we recognize the issues they are causing.
Destructive habits such as biting your nails, chewing ice, hard-brushing your teeth, smoking, excessive coffee or wine intake, grinding your teeth, or even eating hard, sticky sweets have significant impacts on your oral health.
During your dental check up, your dentists will examine your teeth and gum and check for any damages caused by these habits. Surprisingly, you may never have noticed the destructive nature of chewing ice or drinking coffee.
The dentist’s visit brings more awareness and helps you keep away from these destructive habits. Knowing the kind of damage some of these habits are causing will make you change or alter your lifestyle, leading to improved oral health.
6. Identify Problems Under Your Gums Through X-Ray Images
One of the procedures during routine dental check ups is the X-ray imaging of your teeth and jawbone to highlight and diagnose issues that may be invisible to the eye. The x-ray images can help identify impacted teeth common with wisdom teeth, bone decay, tumors, and cysts that are impossible to see with the naked eye.
Having your jawbone and teeth examined and x-rayed every six months ensures that you are always on top of your oral health. Dental issues developing under the surface are identified well ahead of time, giving the dentist enough time to curate a truly personalized treatment plan for successful outcomes.
7. Help With Teeth Grinding And Related Sleep Problems
Issues such as sleep problems, teeth grinding, and chronic headaches are often related to your dental health. However, most people only realize that they have these problems during their routine dental visits.
Your dentist can identify signs of teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) and provide customized mouth guards that help ease the teeth grinding while still helping with sleep apnea problem.
If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentists will assess your teeth, mouth, and temporomandibular joints to determine if you are a right candidate for these oral devices. Regular dental check-ups also ensure that there is regular monitoring and continued modifications of some of these oral appliances, hence improving your overall wellbeing.
Warning Signs That You Need A Dental Check Up ASAP
The American Dental Association recommends that you should visit a dental office every six months. These visits ensure that any issues are diagnosed and treated in time. This way, your dental and oral health is always in tip-top shape.
However, not all people adhere to these guidelines. While a few people will have their visits more regularly, a huge bunch of the population will only visit a dental office if they are experiencing pain, discomfort, or teeth sensitivity. But is this really ideal?
Absolutely not! Because some dental conditions such as cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer are often invisible and painless unless in their advanced stages. It is, therefore, a no brainer that you see your dentists once or twice a year. However, some people are at a higher risk of dental diseases and might need more dental check-ups in a year. These highrisk groups include:
· Pregnant women
· People who are having a gum disease
· People with a weak immune system
· People who have cavities
· People with fast plaque buildup
For many people, surprisingly, preventative dental check-ups can sometimes fall by the wayside due to busy work and family schedules. This is until a nagging dental issue reminds you it’s been a while since your last check-up.
Let’s look at some of the telltale signs that you need an urgent dental check-up. These signs shouldn’t be assumed since they help catch dental problems early on before they become expensive to treat.
· Swollen, sore or inflamed gums
· Painful chewing
· Loose or shifting teeth
· Mouth sores, thrush, bumps, and lumps
· Receding gums
· Bleeding gums during flossing or brushing
· Ongoing toothache
· Unusually dry mouth
· Cracked or chipped teeth
· Teeth sensitivity to hot or cold beverages, foods, and temperatures
· Chronic bad breath
· Loose or broken dental implants
· An ongoing jaw pain
What Should I Expect On A Routine Dental Checkup?
A visit to the dentist doesn’t have to be dreadful. In fact, most dental offices have patient-centric procedures that ensure a fun experience that you can always look forward to. Here’s what to expect from start to finish during a routine dental visit:
· Meet the receptionist
During your visit, you’ll first meet the receptionist. Receptionists ensure that everything around the office flows seamlessly. They also schedule appointments and help with your payment process.
· History analysis
You’ll then meet a hygienist or certified dental assistant (CDA) who takes your medical history and updates your progress since the last dental visit. At this point, the CDA or hygienist would also address any concerns or fears to ease your anxiety. Often, they’ll explain what will be done throughout the process, ensuring that you’re fully informed before the actual procedure.
The CDA might ask questions about your lifestyle and provide advice on diet. They might also ask about your general health and how your teeth have been since the last visit.
· Teeth cleaning
The dental hygienist will then do a thorough oral cleaning using special instruments. They will scrape the gum line and remove built-up plaque and tartar even in hard-to-reach places. They might also floss your teeth to remove any plaque and food particles clinging between the teeth.
· Teeth Polishing
The dental hygienist then uses a tooth polisher to give your teeth a smooth, shiny finish. Besides giving you a sparkling smile, the polishing also ensures that plaque will not easily collect on your teeth in between the dental check-up visits.
· Dental examination
The dentist then carries out a full dental examination using a metal probe with a small angled mirror. This device helps them to at the soft tissues lining your mouth, teeth, and gums.
During the examination, the dentist will look for any softening on the dentin and tooth enamel. They also look out for any sores, redness, and swelling in the gum and soft tissues. Finally, the dentists will measure the periodontal pockets to identify any signs of periodontal gum disease.
If the dentist notices any signs of dental problems arising from habits like smoking, coffee, or alcohol consumption, they will advise you on appropriate lifestyle changes such as changing your diet or putting a stop to the destructive habits.
Your dentists might also request for X-ray images to help them examine your jawbone and other supporting structures beneath the gums. These images help unearth invisible abnormalities, such as impacted teeth, tumors, cysts, abscesses, and decay between teeth. Due to the risk of radiation exposure, the x-ray images are not always required unless when the dentists have a hunch of an underlying issue.
· Oral Cancer Screening
Due to the prevalence of oral cancers, many dental offices have now included oral cancer screening as part of their procedure. Your dentists will examine the soft tissues around your mouth and jaws using select chemicals and lights to identify any signs of oral cancer. This is a painless, non-invasive procedure that increases the in-time detection of cancer dramatically.
· Results, Advice, And Education
The dentists then make recommendations depending on the results of his dental examination. Depending on the type and extent of any oral health problem identified, the dentist might recommend the use of special oral appliances, advice on the best-fit restoration work, or even refer you to other health specialists.
Sometimes, the dentist may schedule another appointment for additional oral procedures. But that’s just about it!
If there are no issues, the dentists will give you expert advice on home-care procedures and products that you can use for the best oral and dental health. They will also schedule you for the next preventative dental check-up to keep your health and wellbeing on top.
Stay On Top Of Your Dental Health With Regular Checkups
Skipping your dental appointments may not seem like a big deal, but dental and oral problems can develop and escalate extremely fast. Routine dental check ups ensure that these problems are identified and treated early on, hence sparing you time and money that could be used on other complicated dental procedures.
Maintaining regular visits to the dentists will improve your oral health and overall well-being. Ensure that you find a reliable and professional dental office that you and your family are most comfortable with to make the dental visits fun and worry-free.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
How long does a dental check up usually last?
Most of the time a dental check can last between thirty minutes to one hour. If you decide to get your teeth cleaned during that same appointment it may take an additional thirty minutes.
Is a dental check up free?
Most dental check ups will require a fee for the x-rays and consultation visit. Fortunately, for our patients at Best Dental, we offer complimentary dental check up examinations. This allows our patients to make informed decisions about their treatment plans with the worry of up front costs.
What can I expect at a dentist appointment
Your initial dental appointment can be broken down into a series of steps:
- Initial x-rays (including a Panoramic radiograph)
- A complete oral and extraoral exam by your dentist
- A treatment plan going over what dental work you need
- An oral cancer screening exam is also given by some dentists
What options do you have if you cannot afford a dentist
Dental schools and other free dental clinics can be found in many cities across the United States. If you are looking for an affordable dentist, make sure you look at their reviews as well to make sure they will look our for your best interests.