The standard recommendation for visiting the dentist is twice per year. During those visits you have your teeth thoroughly cleaned and checked for potential issues. For some people, those visits generally end with a clean bill of health and a ‘see you in six months.’ If you take good care of your teeth are these regular cleanings really necessary? Can the hygienist do something for your teeth during the cleaning that you cannot do for yourself at home? Should you visit the dentist only when a problem arises? The reality is that there is a lot that happens during your regular dental visits that will help you maintain your oral health much longer than if you tried to do it all on your own.
Tartar can develop on your teeth when plaque is left and allowed to harden. If you have ever noticed the dental hygienist scraping your teeth then you have had tartar in the past. Consistent brushing and flossing will help keep tartar development to a minimum. But, since plaque likes to hang out around the gum line it is easy to miss some of it even with good oral hygiene habits. Once plaque hardens into tartar removal is impossible with normal brushing. You will have any tartar that develops removed during your regular dental cleanings.
Tooth decay generally starts out small and painlessly. Major toothaches that put you in agony have likely been hanging around for a while. During regular dental cleanings your dentist will check for signs of decay. Catching a cavity early on can save you from a lot of pain and more invasive dental procedures like a root canal.
Assess gum health
Your gum health can have a major impact on both your oral and overall health. Poor gum health can lead to pain, tooth loss, and complication with chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. The health of your gums is something that is assessed with each regular dental cleaning. They will look at the color and firmness of your gums and may also measure them to compare recession at future visits.
Occasionally you will have imaging done during your regular dental cleanings. There are a number of different types of imaging your dentist will take and they are all done on a schedule that is determined in conjunction with your dentist and your insurance. These images can identify areas of decay that are not visible to the naked eye and provide insight into potential causes for other issues. Having a consistent history of imaging can provide important information if you need more extensive treatment in the future.
You get much more than that ‘clean teeth feeling’ when you visit the dentist for your regular cleanings. There are a multitude of issues that can be prevented or treated when you are consistent with your appointments. The effort it takes to go to a dental cleaning twice per year is worth the trouble because of the time and pain you can avoid with preventative dentistry.