Most of us are taught the importance of regular tooth brushing at an early age. Regular brushing and flossing can help prevent the development of cavities that can lead to a variety of painful and expensive dental problems. Unfortunately, many people don’t realise that regular check-ups with your dentist are also a vital ingredient in the recipe for excellent long-term oral health, and even your overall general health. Poor dental care has been linked to a variety of other health problems, like diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
How Often Should I Visit the Dentist?
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you visit your dentist every six months. Your dentist can perform a thorough examination of your teeth to catch any potential problems early, before they develop into larger, more painful and more expensive ones.
What Happens During Your Regularly Scheduled Dental Check-ups?
It may surprise you to know that at a dental checkup, your dentist or hygienist looks for much more than just signs of decay in your teeth. In fact, many dentists are able to identify medical conditions such as diabetes, and signs of vitamin deficiencies and even oral cancer during a routine appointment. Most dental check-ups are composed of three main elements.
Clinical Dental Examination and Evaluation
Unsurprisingly, the dental examination and evaluation is the largest component of your appointment. You can expect your dentist or hygienist to assess the condition of your teeth and gums by:
- Examining your teeth for cavities and decay
- Checking for broken or loose teeth
- Ensuring that any fillings are intact
- Examining the gums for signs of gum disease
- Look for any changes in gum color, or the way they cover the teeth
- Checking your bite
- Assessing your tongue and the tissues inside your mouth
If you have a dental appliance such as dentures, a sleep apnea device, a retainer or Invisalign, this will be evaluated to ensure it still fits and functions as it should.
Your dentist may also decide that it is necessary to take x-rays. These will be used to take a more detailed look at your jaw and teeth. X-rays are also important to keep on file as a frame of reference for treatments.
Dental Examination and Evaluation of Your Head and Neck
A comprehensive dental check-up will involve a thorough examination and evaluation of your head and neck to check that your anatomy is healthy, and there is nothing out of the ordinary. The examination will include your face, your neck, your lymph nodes and the lower joints of your jaw, which are referred to as temporomandibular joints (TMJs).
A Professional-Grade Dental Cleaning
Many dentists will also offer a professional clean during your check-up appointment. Although you may be brushing and flossing regularly, your dentist can better access your mouth to be able to offer an extremely thorough examination of your mouth, teeth and gums. He also has the professional equipment necessary to be able to offer a truly deep and comprehensive clean that will leave your mouth looking and feeling awesome.
A professional-grade clean will usually involve:
- Removing any plaque or tartar
- Flossing between your teeth
- Polishing your teeth
Your dentist/hygienist may also ask you about your oral care routine and make suggestions or recommendations that will support the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
By visiting your dentist regularly, and following a great daily dental hygiene routine, you can help to maintain your smile and your health for years to come.