The American Dental Association recommends a visit with your dentist every six months. You might think this is excessive - after all, you take care of your teeth.
Unfortunately, at-home care isn't always enough; plaque can accumulate, creating biofilms that affect your teeth and gums. If left unchecked, this progression can result in cavities, gingivitis and periodontitis, all stemming from inflammation and decay. Dental checkups every six months assess the health of your mouth and help steer you toward treatments that can prevent those issues from progressing further.
What to Expect During a Dental Exam
During a routine dental exam, your dentist, as well as their assistant and hygienist, will examine the health of your gums, tongue and teeth. They may also check your neck, head and lymph nodes for any issues. They will likely also:
- Check for plaque, tartar and signs of tooth decay.
- Examine tooth quality for factors like cracks, erosion and chips.
- Check on the quality and effectiveness of any restorations, including fillings, crowns and implants.
- Assess gum health, including for inflammation, receding tissue and gum disease.
- Check for signs of oral cancer.
- Examine your bite, saliva quality and jaw movement.
- Consider your dental health in relation to other conditions, particularly diabetes, heart disease and nutrition.
- Discuss how you've been taking care of your teeth at home, including everything from your brushing technique to the foods you consume to your lifestyle habits.
- Take X-rays for a more thorough examination of all bone structures.
- Clean and floss your teeth to remove plaque and tartar deposits.
The Benefits of Getting Routine Dental Checkups
Routine dental checkups offer the following benefits:
Catching Dental Issues Before They Progress
It's better to address a cavity with a filling, instead of waiting until you need a root canal. X-rays and a physical examination help identify dental problems in their early stages. You'll then be directed toward treatments to improve your dental health. Ignoring conditions like cavities and gingivitis can result in more invasive treatments later on, leave you in pain, cause you to lose a tooth or jawbone tissue and contribute to other health complications.
Routine dental visits commonly help identify and treat cavities, gum disease, bruxism, sores and oral cancer before they progress. They're also an opportunity for your dentist to identify the presence of another health condition, like heart disease or diabetes, through your teeth.
Oral Cancer Screening
We tend to associate routine dental visits with teeth cleanings and X-rays. However, you'll also be screened for oral cancer. Your dentist assesses your head, neck and lymph nodes for lumps, and examines any patches present in your mouth.
In addition to catching issues before they progress, these visits allow your dentist to assess the results of your at-home routine. You may be given tips on how frequently to brush and floss, your technique and whether your brush and other tools need to be updated.
More and more individuals are striving for a whiter, brighter smile. These visits present an opportunity for discussing cosmetic treatments - from at-home solutions to veneers and in-office whitening - to achieve desired results.
Assessing Past Restorations
Fillings and crowns don't last forever. Your dental habits further influence their lifespan. During these visits, your dentist checks on their quality, stability and effectiveness, and may recommend an update or another treatment in response.
Routine dental visits can also benefit your budget in the long run. Preventative maintenance costs less than more invasive dental treatments later, and many insurance carriers offer low or no co-pays for these routine visits.
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