Are Regular Dental Checkups Worth the Effort?
One of the most common health problems is that most of us don`t pay too much attention to oral health; taking it for granted that our mouth takes care of itself! Frankly speaking, we allow health issues to develop and escalate and when pain ensues, that`s only when we rush to knock on the dentist`s door. So, if you`ve found yourself wondering what the point of having regular dental checkups and cleanings really is, we’ve got something here for you to think about.
Dental appointments shouldn’t just be made when you have a problem that needs to be addressed. The old saying still stands “Prevention is always better than cure”, and a regular dental checkup at your trusted dental practice is crucial because it can help keep your teeth and gums healthy. By visiting your dentist habitually you can build a good relationship that will allow him to tailor advice and dental support specific to your health needs over a long period of time.
With just a mirror you can see how your front teeth are looking, but in your deeper teeth and underneath your gums a lot can be going on without you even realizing it. Dentists not only solve problems, they can prevent them. Of the potential problems they can detect, dental decay and gum disease pose as the most common. Moreover, there are many bad habits that can have a negative impact on your oral health, some of which you may not even realize are causing problems such as chewing ice, biting your nails, grinding your teeth, eating sticky or firm sweets, brushing your teeth too hard, drinking too much coffee and for sure smoking. Regular dental checkups can detect any oral damage caused by these habits which you may otherwise not have noticed. Being informed about specific destructive habits allows you to positively change your lifestyle to prevent further damage.
When it comes to oral health, being proactive is essential and seeing your dentist regularly should always be given a priority in your calendar. It allows you to fix early any damage that has already been done, and help your oral health be the best it can be. Truly said, there really isn’t anyone better placed to help you maintain an optimum oral health than your dentist.
What happens during your dental visit?
Typically, a regular dental visit includes 2 phases; checkup (or clinical examination) and cleaning (or oral prophylaxis).
During the checkup phase, your dentist will check your teeth for the presence of any cavities or other abnormalities. Dental x-ray may be needed to detect cavities between your teeth as it allows dental professionals to see what is happening beneath the surface and can detect issues that may be detectable with the naked eye.
This phase will also include a check for the presence of plaque and tartar on your teeth. Plaque is a clear, sticky layer of bacteria which, if not removed, can solidify and become tartar. Unfortunately, this tartar cannot be removed with brushing and flossing. If tartar is allowed to build up on your teeth, it starts eroding your teeth and creating holes in them and this is how cavities develop. Cavities tend not to give any warning signs as they develop and only result in a toothache once the tooth is, sadly, already decayed. Once the damage has been done with the pain being unbearable and disturbing to your daily life or depriving you of a good night`s sleep, you`ll have to rush to your dentist for professional dental help. This can all be avoided with regular cleanings that take care of plaque and tartar before it devastates your teeth and erodes your gum tissue.
Next, your gums will be checked. This will be done with a special tool to measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums. With healthy gums, the spaces are shallow. When people have gum disease, the spaces may become deeper. This is followed by thorough examination of the tongue and throat.
Moving on to the cleaning phase, your teeth will also be meticulously cleaned during your visit. Brushing and flossing can help in cleaning the plaque from your teeth, but you can't remove tartar at home even with the most diligent daily brushers and flosses. During the cleaning, your dentist will use special tools to remove tartar; a service popularly known as “scaling”. After your teeth are scaled, they are polished by a gritty paste. It helps to remove any surface stains on your teeth.
To conclude, if you`re into the habit of skipping dental checkups because of cost concern or because of any another factor like time constraints or dental fears, make sure to consider all the risks. Initially it may not seem like a big deal, but oral problems can develop and progress quickly - whether or not you notice it - and you might end up paying on the long run much higher, both off your wallet and your peace of mind. Play it wisely and keep on top of your dental checkup and cleaning … You`d be doing your health a big favor on the long run!
Wishing you a great calendar of oral health!
Dr. Nuno Sarmento
General Dentist and Oral Health Expert