Seeing your dentist regularly is an important part of maintaining good oral health. Many dental problems can be easily prevented with regular visits and routine cleanings. In addition, early detection of dental issues can prevent more serious problems from developing and reduce the need for expensive procedures in the future. The Importance of Regular Dental Check-ups: Maintaining Oral Health
While many people know that they should visit their dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning and oral examination, some may wonder why this is so important. A recent study found that those who did not receive regular dental care had a higher risk of other health problems, including cardiovascular disease.
The dentist will first take a full history of the patient, examining the current status of the mouth and identifying any existing problems or potential issues. They will also ask the patient about any medications they are taking that could affect their oral health. For example, some medicines can cause dry mouth and lead to a higher risk of tooth decay.
During the oral examination, the dentist will look for signs of gum disease, which can be hard to spot at home. They will measure the depth of the gum pockets and note any areas where the teeth are separating. These are signs of periodontal disease, which can be prevented with regular brushing and flossing. The dentist will also examine the head and neck for any abnormalities, such as swollen lymph nodes, which may be a sign of cancer or other serious diseases.
Dental x-rays are another important tool in detecting problems, as they provide a detailed view of the internal structure of the mouth and can identify issues such as impacted teeth, bone loss in the jaw, or cysts and tumors. In some cases, the dentist may need to take additional x-rays if there are any new or developing problems.
After the x-rays and exam, the dentist will clean the patient’s teeth using scaling tools to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth. Flossing is then done to remove any remaining plaque in the spaces between the teeth. The teeth are then polished, which can be done with a gritty toothpaste to help remove surface stains. A fluoride treatment is then applied, which can help protect the teeth from cavities in the future.
In addition to detecting and treating dental problems, the dentist will educate patients on how to take better care of their teeth at home. They will encourage patients to brush and floss more often, to avoid sugary snacks, and to use dental rinses to help protect the teeth against decay. They will also talk to the patient about other lifestyle habits that can have an impact on oral health, such as smoking or vaping, clenching and grinding (bruxism), and diet.
Regular visits to the dentist can help prevent or treat dental problems before they become more severe. They can also provide a snapshot of the overall health of the mouth and the body, which can be useful for evaluating general health.