Regular dental check-ups combined with good oral hygiene can save you time and money, and reduce the risk of emergency dental visits. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is an essential part of maintaining your overall health!
We know your schedule is very busy. For many people, it’s hard – or even scary – to find the time for a dental appointment, especially if it’s been a long time since your last visit. But do you know that keeping your teeth and gums healthy is an essential part of maintaining your overall health? You may not realise it, but oral health affects other parts of your body, including your gut, skin and even your heart! It can also have an impact on the condition of your arteries, your blood pressure, diabetes status and much more.
For good oral health, two elements are essential – regular dental check-ups and a proper oral-care routine. Let’s start with the first one.
Why should I visit my dentist regularly?
Even if proper care of your teeth and gums is part of your everyday routine, it’s still important to visit your dentist regularly. Delaying your appointments until you feel pain or notice a problem could make your follow-up visits more complicated, maybe a bit more painful, and probably more expensive.
Let’s take a look at valid reasons why you should see your dentist on a regular basis:
- Early diagnosis
During a routine visit, your doctor checks your mouth to identify any hidden problems. For example, you won’t be able to feel or see a cavity until it has already caused significant damage to the tooth. In other words, you want to discover the cavity before it starts to hurt, which can only be done by a dental professional. Early diagnosis of issues such as cavities or gum disease helps to fix the issue at an early stage and reduces the risk of developing more serious problems. Which also means less frequent visits and less complicated (and costly) treatments in the future. A dental professional is not just checking the possibility of gum or teeth disease, but also examines the whole mouth – here belongs for example oral cancer screening, the function of muscles, examining the space under the tongue, and how it all works together.
- Instructions for oral hygiene
Do you want to improve your skills and learn how to take the best care of your teeth? Your dental professional will be happy to show you what to include in your at-home kit, and how to brush your teeth in the most effective way. This will also help you make sure that you won’t end up in the dental chair again any earlier than necessary.
Tartar is usually visible when you look closely at the transition between the teeth and gum – you will often find it on the inner side of lower front teeth.
- Professional cleaning
At a routine visit, your teeth will be professionally cleaned to remove dental plaque and tartar build-up. Once plaque has hardened into the form of tartar, it is not possible to effectively remove it at home. Special tools in a dental professional’s office need to be used for its removal. Tartar forms mostly below and above the gum line. It is usually visible when you look closely at the transition between the teeth and gum – you will often find it on the inner side of lower front teeth.
You can also feel it with your tongue or while using floss and interdental brushes – it’s harder to insert the cleaning tools between the teeth where tartar is present. Tartar is rough and porous and often leads to receding gums and gum disease. When professional cleaning is neglected, it can cause serious damage to your dental health.
How often should I see my dentist?
The frequency depends on several factors, including your medical condition and oral hygiene habits. A general rule is to see your dentist once or twice a year, but some people may need more frequent checks.
Who should go to the dentist more often?
Once you start focusing on prevention by seeing your dentist once a year and adopting the right oral hygiene habits, the number of your emergency dental visits should go down significantly.
However, there are several things that signal you should consult a dentist before your next routine check-up.
The most obvious reason for an emergency dental visit is pain. Pain in the mouth can mean many different things, such as a cavity or inflamed gums, so it’s a good idea to have them checked by a dentist. But remember, the ideal scenario is to avoid the need of pain-based emergency visits at all, if possible. Any pain you feel in your teeth usually means that caries has spread to the extent that it needs to be solved as soon as possible, and usually, it’s solved by invasive treatment such as drilling and filling the space that was damaged by the caries.
When you’re pregnant, your hormones fluctuate more than usual. This can make you more vulnerable to gum issues and plaque build-up. It is always advisable to pay a visit to your dentist before or during the time when you’re planning to get pregnant, so any dental issues can be solved prior to conception.
- Bleeding gums
In itself, a little blood in the sink is not a reason to panic. Especially if you are just starting to use interdental brushes, as for the first few days a small amount of bleeding is almost always present. But if the bleeding persists, occurs spontaneously or comes in bigger quantities, it’s best to visit your doctor and have your gums checked, because it’s probably caused by inflammation, which is a sign of gum disease.
- Dry mouth
If your mouth always feels like the Sahara Desert, it could be a sign of a medical issue or a side effect of medication that you’re taking, so it’s best to consult with your dentist.
- Spots and sores in your mouth
If there’s something that doesn’t look or feel right in the mouth, and it lasts more than a week or is reoccurring, you should visit your dentist so that they can examine it.
- Weak immune response
If your immune system is weak due to an illness or medication, this can cause issues with your gums and make you more prone to cavities. In this case, it’s a good idea to see your dentist more frequently and keep them informed about your medication and current health status.
What happens during a routine dental check-up?
Once you’ve made the appointment, if you’ve not visited your dentist in a while, you may wonder what to expect from the visit. In general, the doctor will first ask about any problems you’ve recently had with your teeth, mouth or gums. He or she may also ask about your diet, smoking and teeth-cleaning habits.
After that, usually X-rays will be taken of your teeth to help find problems that are just starting or are hard to see. For example, it is quite often that caries can be hidden under a filling, and this is only visible thanks to an X-ray. Then, the dentist or their assistant will clean your teeth using various instruments to remove tartar and plaque, or they’ll advise you to make an appointment with a dental hygienist.
It is quite often that caries can be hidden under a filling, and this is only visible thanks to an X-ray.
The dentist will examine your teeth, gums and tongue to check for any issues. Based on what they find, they will recommend a treatment plan (if needed) and give you instructions on how to maintain your oral health at home.
Don’t be frustrated or scared if your dentist finds problems. By identifying the issue, you’re already on the way to fixing it – with your dentist’s help!
Why are so many of us afraid of visiting the dentist?
Most people who are scared of visiting the dentist are afraid of the pain, and yes, there was a time when dental visits were truly painful. However, with technological advancements, innovative techniques and pharmaceutical numbing agents, patients nowadays don’t feel as much pain as they did in the past.
Dental treatment is often carried out without any pain at all, in a very comfortable and safe environment. Some people even enjoy their time spent in the dental chair – they just close their eyes and let the professionals do their work. With modern anaesthetic options, a visit to the dentist doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience ever again.
What can I do for my own oral health?
Actually, a lot. Although good oral hygiene is not a replacement for a routine dental check-up, taking care of your oral health between dental visits is essential for keeping the number of dental appointments to a minimum and keeping your mouth healthy for a lifetime.