The Importance of Regular Dental Visits
Patients often believe they are saving money by not seeing their dentist regularly. There are several reasons a patient should see their dentists at least every six months (some patients require more frequent recalls). The primary reason that you should see your dentist every six months is to have your teeth cleaned and checked. The purpose of a dental cleaning is to remove calculus (tartar) from your teeth. Calculus is a hardened form of dental plaque that forms on the crowns and roots of your teeth. It harbors bacteria that are damaging to the gums and bone that surround your teeth. If calculus is not removed it can lead to gingivitis, periodontitis and eventually the loss of teeth.
Dental caries (cavities) are detected by routine exams and x-rays. Patients often say “I can’t believe I have a cavity, it doesn’t even hurt!”. When patients frequently see their dentists, caries can be detected in their early stages before they are painful. This allows the dentist to treat teeth with minimally invasive techniques that save the patient money. Patients who forgo their routine exams can allow a small problem that could be easily fixed with a filling, to become an expensive problem requiring a root canal and crown or an extraction and implant placement. I often tell patients this is like changing your oil every few months as opposed to replacing your engine. Preventative maintenance can save you a lot of money by addressing problems early.
Even patients that have no natural teeth remaining should see their dentist every six months for an exam. Many people do not realize that one of the most important parts of a dental exam does not involve your teeth. An oral cancer screening should be conducted in conjunction with your dental exam. Most patients do not even realize that your dentist is doing an oral cancer screening. During the oral cancer screening, the dentist pulls out your tongue with a piece of gauze and examines it. They will also examine the floor of your mouth, oral mucosa, palate and other structures is to look for signs of oral cancer. If your dentist detects any unusual or suspicious lesions you should be referred for a biopsy. Dental visits are important for keeping your mouth healthy and for your overall health.
Dennis C. Doyle DDS