The American Dental Association says that a good rule of thumb is to see your dentist every six months. But have you ever wondered why? After all, you only need a regular physical every year or two, so why does your oral health need so much more attention? If you think about it, we ask a lot of our mouth.
Most people lose their first tooth around the age of 6, and the average lifespan in the United States is 78 years. The enamel that protects the delicate dentin and pulp inside your teeth does not repair itself like other bodily systems. What your given is what you have for life. That means your adult teeth need to survive an average of 72 years of chewing, grinding, clenching, and exposure to food and acidic drinks. Read on to find out why seeing your dentist is so important to good oral health.
Why Should You See Your Dentist Twice a Year?
The key to keeping your oral health in good condition is to catch problems early or prevent them before they even start. Going to the dentist every six months gives the professionals a chance to examine your mouth on a regular basis. Your dentist and dental hygienist are proficient at spotting the signs of tooth decay and gum disease. Both of these are very treatable, especially in the early stages.
Another reason to see the dentist regularly is that it will save you money. Preventative dental work is usually fully covered by insurance, but if gum disease or tooth decay are left too long, treatments become more and more expensive. You run the risk of needing a root canal or even losing your tooth! Your dentist will also check you for other oral health problems such as TMJ syndrome and oral cancer. The best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy is to make sure you’re going to the dentist twice a year.
Why do you need your teeth cleaned every 6 months?
Ok, so now you understand why you visit the dentist regularly, but what’s the deal with those dental cleanings? During your dental visit, you will likely spend more time with your dental hygienist than with your dentist. Your hygienist is the one who gets up close and personal with your teeth and gums. Regular dental cleanings are the cornerstone of keeping oral health problems at bay.
There are two things that contribute to cavities and gingivitis – plaque and tartar. Dental plaque is a sticky film that begins forming on the teeth between 4 and 12 hours after brushing. It’s created when your saliva combines with food and drink and contains lots of harmful bacteria. The presence of this bacteria is normal, but when it is left on the teeth too long, it starts to eat away at your teeth and gums causing cavities and gingivitis (early disease of the gums). Plaque can be removed from your teeth by brushing twice a day, but even those with the best oral hygiene can’t get it all. When plaque is left on the teeth, it mineralizes into a substance called tartar.
Tartar is a hard yellow or brown deposit that bonds tightly to your teeth. It causes serious oral health conditions, such as periodontitis, and can only be removed by a professional. During a regular dental cleaning, your hygienist will scale your teeth using various sharp-looking instruments, or sometimes a super-fine stream of water. The process is painless and removes all traces of plaque and tartar from your teeth and under the gum line, which will help prevent periodontitis from forming. They finish by polishing each tooth with a gritty paste to remove surface stains and brighten your smile. Not only do they keep your teeth sparkling clean, but they can also spot problem areas for your dentist to take a closer look at during your examination.
What happens if you don’t go to the dentist for 5 years?
Even if you aren’t asking how often should you go to the dentist, there are a bunch of reasons people put off their dental visits. Whether you think you don’t have time to keep your appointments or you’re just too afraid of going, it’s easy to let five years slip by without regular cleanings. What happens if you just don’t go?
Well, without regular check-ups, any small problem in your mouth will quickly grow out of control. Cavities that started small and superficial will grow until they cause pain and require root canal therapy. Gingivitis can develop into full-on gum disease, causing bone loss and missing teeth. Bacteria living in the buildup of tartar has also been shown to contribute to heart disease and stroke. And even though it’s rare, oral cancer that may have been caught early could develop into a much more serious problem. All of these worst-case scenarios are easily preventable with regular visits to your dentist.
Visiting the Dentist is Good Self Care
You know that it is important to brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. But if you really take your oral hygiene seriously, adults and children need to visit the dentist every 6 months. If you suffer from other health issues, such as diabetes, you may need to see your dentist more often than that. If you don’t currently have a dentist and live in the Minneapolis area, Gentle Dentistry is accepting new patients and we would like to meet you. If you’re interested, our office also offers other services such as whitening treatment, veneers, and oral surgery. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!