If you’ve ever visited our blog, you’ve probably heard the advice to have dental visits and cleanings twice a year. In fact, dental professionals have been advising twice-yearly frequency for over 50 years. The American Dental Association counsels men and women to visit their dentist twice a year as well.
Is that an arbitrary schedule? Let’s discuss the reasons why regular dental exams and cleanings are an essential part of preventative dentistry and optimum oral health.
What do your dentist and dental hygienist do during an exam and cleaning?
Look for Signs of Decay
Your dentist has tools that allow him/her to see places in your mouth that would be extremely challenging for you to see. While a cavity usually takes over six months to become serious, your dentist can see the telltale white spots that reveal that a cavity is forming. In the earliest stages, your dentist can stop the progression of a cavity. If a cavity drills into your teeth without you knowing it, it will eventually hit the pulp–Ouch!–and you may need a root canal and a crown. As you might imagine, both are far more expensive than an exam and cleaning. Besides, your dental insurance may cover twice-yearly exams and cleanings at 100%.
Clean Out Your Pockets
If you think dental care is unnecessarily expensive, you might not like this joke. We aren’t talking about your wallet here. We are talking about the gap that forms between your gums and tooth roots when bacteria and plaque build-up. It’s not only acute cavities that can damage a tooth until it is beyond saving. Gum disease that leads to bone loss is just as detrimental. A buildup of plaque creates pockets of infection between the gums and tooth roots. This leads to periodontitis, gum recession, and eventual bone loss. A professional cleaning eliminates the plaque before it can cause the gums to pull back.
Check for Oral Cancer
The Oral Cancer Foundation reports this unfortunate stat: oral cancer claims one life every hour—that’s 48,250 deaths a year.1
Clean Plaque and Tartar
Even if you brush and floss your teeth morning and night, plaque can build up. We have many patients who are faithful brushers but are surprised when our hygienist discovers plaque on their teeth.
Polish Your Teeth
When the hygienist polishes your teeth, it cleans away the bacteria that allow the plaque to form. If you have plaque, your hygienist can smooth away uneven areas below the gum line where bacteria can flourish. Plus, it feels amazing when you run your tongue over polished teeth!
Oral Health is Physical Health
Your mouth is connected to the rest of the body, but many men and women treat it as a separate entity. Some get regular preventative services for physical conditions but overlook their oral health.
At Mt. Vernon Center For Dentistry, we’ve often wondered about this persistent disconnect. Did you know that there is compelling evidence to suggest that the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes increases with poor oral health? Besides, your lifestyle is dramatically impacted when you have tooth pain, tooth loss, gum disease, or dentures.
Even if you don’t have dental insurance, cleanings, and exams are one of the most cost-effective ways to preserve optimal oral health.