How often should you get a routine dental checkup?

Dental
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Definition of the dental checkup

Similar to seeing your family doctor, seeing the dentist on a regular basis can address oral health problems in their early stages before it becomes a costly procedure. It also allows the dentist and you to monitor your oral health and any sudden changes that may occur in your oral cavity.

Routine dental check-up: What is its purpose?

It is recommended to visit the dentist once or twice a year, but the length of time between check-ups can vary from 3-4 months to 1-2 years depending on your overall oral health and risk factors for your teeth and gums. Regular dental check-up may save you time and money in the long run. Being on top of your oral health through regular dental checkups and cleaning will present higher chances for safer visits in the future.

Benefits of Regular Dental Check-Ups

There are a few benefits why dental checkups are important:

  • Plaque and Gum Disease. Gum abscess.
  • Cavities and hidden problems (tooth infection, abscess, etc.) revealed with X-rays
  • Preventing Tooth Infection or Root Canals Treatment
  • Avoid Tooth Trauma – Keep your Bad Habits in Check
  • Detect Systemic Health Issues
  • Oral Cancer Detection

Prevent periodontal disease

Frequent professional cleaning will help prevent periodontal disease (gingivitis and, in severe cases, periodontitis). Even with good brushing and flossing, some plaques and small food particles that are clinging to the tooth are difficult to remove, they turn into tartar which cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing and requires professional dental care.

This build-up of plaques contains bacteria that irritate the gums and can lead to an inflammation of the gums resulting in gum diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis, gum abscess, and periodontal pockets if left unchecked. If the plaque is left to build without intervention it can result in bone loss (periodontal pockets), degradation of the integrity of your gums, and loosening of teeth which may result in teeth falling out. Gum disease can be reversible in the early stages if caught early enough. This is why it is important to book regular dental check-up and cleaning so your dental health professionals can work with you to maintain oral hygiene and keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you already have periodontal problems your dentist or hygienist may recommend you have deep teeth cleanings.

Prevent dental tooth decay

Regular visits to your dentist help detect any potential problems that you might not be aware of such as missing/extra teeth, impacted teeth, teeth infections/abscesses, or tooth decay between teeth, which are impossible to see without x-ray imaging. X-rays are an important diagnostic tool used by the dentist during your dental check-up.

The X-rays help the dentist to see the starting signs of decay or active decay and allow them to address the cavity in a timely manner before it leads to more complicated oral issue such as tooth or bone infection. Detecting cavities early allows to prevent further decay and avoid emergency dental treatments which can result in complex and costly procedures.

The X-rays show the dentists destructive diseases like abscesses or bone loss around the tooth that cannot be seen with the naked eye. These destructive diseases may present with little to no symptoms but progress quickly and can lead to tooth extraction.

The X-rays can also indicate if you have impacted teeth, missing or extra (supernumerary) teeth, that are not always obvious upon examination.

Semi-annual dental appointments for checkups, up-to-date x-rays, and oral hygiene are the best ways to help monitor and prevent destructive disease, as well as maintain your oral health.

Preventing Tooth Infection or Root Canals Treatment

Routine checkups and regular cleanings do more than just prevent cavities, gum diseases, and bad breath: they can help avoid future root canal treatment as well. The dentist checks your teeth and can identify problems (cavities) before they progress to the point of needing root canal treatment.

What are Root Canal Treatments or Tooth Infection?

A root canal treatment also referred to as endodontic therapy, is a procedure that involves removing infected/injured tissue, also known as pulp, inside the crown and roots of your tooth. Once the infected/injured tissue is completely removed from within the tooth, it is disinfected, cleaned, and filled with a natural rubber-like material also known as gutta-percha. The gutta-percha helps the roots maintain their shape as once the infected/injured tissue is removed the roots and crown of your teeth become hollow. Once the tooth is filled with gutta-percha, a permanent/temporary filling is placed to close the opening.

Endodontic therapy is recommended by your dentist because they would like to save your tooth. Typically, when a tooth is infected, your dentist may provide you with the option to extract it, however, extractions can leave gaps in your smile, and teeth that do not have an opposing tooth on top may super-erupt (they drop/rise higher than the rest of the teeth) or may start to tilt. In order to preserve your smile and retain the tooth structure root canal treatment may be recommended.

Avoid Tooth Trauma - Keep your Bad Habits in Check

During a routine check-up appointment, a dentist takes a close look at the early signs of bad habits which you may not even realize are causing tooth damage. Some of them are clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, biting your nails or cheeks, brushing your teeth too hard, and of course smoking.

Similar to how regular visits to family physicians can provide medical advice for overall health, visiting the dentist regularly helps to identify any oral issues caused by those habits and fix the problems before they require more expensive and more complicated dental procedures in the future.

Oral Cancer Detection

Oral cancer is an extremely serious disease with fatal consequences if not diagnosed in the early stages. You may not know the early warning signs, but a dentist is highly trained to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancer. A regular six-month dental check-up means that your dentist can recognize oral cancer in its early stages, leading to successful treatment.

Here are some frequently asked questions

What Happens During a Dental Check-Up?
During routine visits, a dentist takes a close look at your teeth, gums, cheek, tongue, throat, and neck. The dentist will review your dental and medical histories and will evaluate your X-rays that may have been taken for diagnostic reasons to address early decay in a timely manner. The dentist will discuss your oral health and will give you advice on how to improve your oral care at home to maintain a healthy mouth.
The regular dental exam helps to identify potential dental issues that you may not be cognizant of. Additionally, it enables the dental professional and you to keep track of your oral health and sudden changes that may occur.
If during the dental checkup, your dentist finds a problem that needs to be addressed soon, you may need to schedule another appointment for a dental treatment. If any problem arises between dental checkups, please contact your dentist immediately to book an emergency appointment.
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