If those six month appointments always seem to roll around faster than anticipated and you can’t help but wonder why they’re necessary, you’re not alone. The six-month cleaning is an essential tool in the arsenal for better dental hygiene, however — and skipping cleanings in favor of once-yearly visits can have serious consequences.
Tooth Decay Is Asymptomatic
If you wait until you feel pain in your mouth to visit the dentist, you already have a cavity that could require more than a simple filling to repair. The fact is that tooth decay — the condition that precedes more serious issues — doesn’t produce any symptoms at all and cavities grow quickly once established. During your regular cleaning, the dentist and hygienist will examine your enamel, test any potential soft spots and clean the plaque and tartar off your teeth. Plaque and tartar are the enemies, because they are the chief cause of tooth decay.
The Dentist Looks for More than Tooth Decay
Did you know that your mouth, face and neck show signs when other illnesses have developed? Anorexia, cancer, diabetes, TMJ and lymph node issues can all be identified at a 6-month checkup. The dentist and hygienist will also take note of damaged or missing fillings, problem teeth, your tongue and your bite. Checking for gum health and disease is another important part of every visit. If you’re getting long in the tooth, it’s time to go for a checkup.
Don’t Forget Your Gums
Excellent oral hygiene habits don’t begin and end with your teeth. Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, starts with bacteria that grow on left-behind food. Without preventive periodontal care, gum disease can end in tooth loss. In many cases, the dentist uses special scaling and root planing techniques that clean the roots of teeth to prevent infections and further decay, often using a local anesthetic to reduce discomfort. Once you have had scaling and root planning the cleanings to follow are considered ‘periodontal maintenance’ and not ‘routine prophy’. The reason being, the pockets created by periodontal gum disease may decrease in size, but in most cases still remain.
If you notice your gums becoming inflamed — or if they bleed easily — you may have early stage gum disease. Proper preventive periodontal care helps patients avoid more difficult and costly treatments later on.
Did you know that problems such as receding gums and bad breath may reverse after your 6-month checkup? Your dentist will make care recommendations — such as switching to an electric toothbrush, how to brush the back bottom teeth more effectively and what type of floss to use — that can shorten the duration of future visits because you’ll have taken better care of your teeth and gums.
The bottom line is that a little preventive care goes a long way. Schedule an appointment at the dentist and keep your smile shining bright.
Payson Dental office for more information.