The Necessity of Dental Checkups
When your teeth seem to be healthy and you aren’t experiencing any discomfort, it’s very easy to let your semi-annual visits to a dentist slip through the cracks of your busy life. Unfortunately, by putting off a professional dental cleaning and checkup, you could be creating problems that in the future will require a lot more time and money than a regularly scheduled visit would require.
To begin with, getting a professional dental cleaning (which is also called a prophylaxis) is a good way to confirm that the daily oral hygiene habits you practice at home are being effective in maintaining your oral health. If they are not, your dental hygienist will be able to advise you on some changes you can make to ensure that you are doing everything you can to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Secondly, even good, consistent daily oral hygiene habits are not enough to get rid of 100 percent of the plaque that is constantly present in your mouth. And any plaque that is not removed but is allowed to remain on your teeth can turn to tartar (also known as calculus), which is a hard substance that can only be removed by using special dental procedures and tools. When calculus is left undisturbed, it forms rough edges and crevices that attract more plaque, which when not removed turns into more tartar, developing a cycle that creates a problem that can eventually turn into major dental or periodontal issues. But the situation doesn’t stop there, because studies have shown that periodontal issues and infections can have negative and even disastrous consequences regarding your overall health.
Dentists can vary a bit in what they include in a dental checkup, but the basics that are typically covered are:
- Review of your daily oral hygiene habits and helpful instructions if needed.
- An evaluation of all of your teeth and fillings, veneers, crowns, implants, bridges, on lays, and inlays to check for cavities, cracks, fractures, chips, leaks, loose teeth, etc.
- Plaque and tartar removal with tooth scaling and planing if needed.
- Flossing between your teeth.
- Stain removal and cleaning and polishing of your teeth.
- Examining your gums and checking for gingivitis or periodontal disease.
- Checking your lower jaw joints and your bite.
- Dental x-rays if warranted.
- Looking at the tissue on the inside of your mouth.
- Examining your tongue.
While all of the above can help save you from having large dental issues, one of the most important things that your dentist does during a regular dental visit is screening for oral cancer, which is actually a crucial part of taking care of your overall health. Because of these oral cancer screenings, on a yearly basis, dentists all over the world diagnose more than 300,000 new cases of oral cancer, a disease that currently causes around 7,500 deaths worldwide each year. However, when it is detected early, the survival rate for this potentially deadly problem can be 80 percent or higher.
Because of all of the health issues that can develop from problems in your mouth, having professional dental cleanings and checkups at least once every six months is vitally important to help support not only your oral health but your overall health as well.