Most of us have plenty of occasions we look forward to throughout the year: birthdays, holidays, vacations. But six-month dental checkups? Not so much. In fact, plenty of us wind up skipping our twice-yearly checkups and routine dental cleanings altogether. After all, if we don’t have a toothache, what’s the point in seeing the dentist?
The fact is, having regular, twice-yearly checkups and cleanings is one of the best things you can do for your teeth and gums — and it can help you maintain better overall health as well. If you’re prone to delaying your own dental cleanings, here are three powerful benefits you’re missing out on.
Keep cavities and gum disease at bay
Yes, maintaining good habits such as brushing and flossing certainly goes a long way toward keeping tooth decay and gum disease at bay. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once gets rid of tiny food particles that provide a food source for disease- and decay-causing bacteria. These habits also help remove plaque, a sticky film that coats teeth and supports bacterial growth (not to mention being a major cause of bad breath).
But as essential as these two activities are to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, they’re not enough to get rid of all the plaque that builds up on and around our teeth. Some plaque manages to lodge in places where brushing and flossing just can’t reach — areas like the gum line and between the teeth. Over time, sticky plaque hardens into tartar (or calculus), which just can’t be removed with brushing and flossing alone.
Like plaque, tartar also harbors bacteria, and when tartar isn’t removed, it provides a kind of hard “shell” that allows bacteria to thrive and multiply. Tartar between your teeth and along the gum line makes it a lot easier for gum disease to occur. As the bacteria underneath the hard tartar layer move down the tooth, they excrete toxins that irritate gum tissue. As a result, your gums begin to separate from the tooth surface, shrinking down and creating pockets that make it easier for the bacteria to reach your tooth roots. Eventually, bacterial infections around the roots cause the tooth to become weak and fall out. As extreme as it may sound, gum disease is extremely common — so common, the National Institutes of Health says it’s the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the U.S.
Reduce your risks for systemic diseases
Tooth loss isn’t the only problem associated with gum disease. Studies show the bacteria that cause gum disease are also linked with serious medical conditions and diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis (porous bones), respiratory diseases and stroke. Researchers think inflammation associated with gum disease either causes these other problems or exacerbates existing conditions, increasing the risk of serious and even life-threatening events in some patients. In addition to removing plaque and tartar buildup, routine cleanings also give your Lowes Island Dentistry team time to determine if gum disease is already occurring, helping you get early care to potentially reduce your risks for far more serious medical problems as well.
Diagnose oral cancer early
Preventing bacterial infections is a really important reason why you need to have professional dental cleanings twice a year. Identifying oral cancer is another. More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancers every year in the U.S., and more than 10 million people die as a result of the disease. Oral cancer can be difficult to detect on your own, causing symptoms that can be hard to spot unless you know what you’re looking for.
During your office visit, the either Uzma Ansari, DMD or Melody Bahramian, DMD will carefully examine your teeth, gums, palate and other areas of your mouth, looking for the earliest signs of oral cancer. If any suspicious areas are noted, the dentist can perform diagnostic exams to determine if cancer cells are present, so you can begin treatment right away.
Of course, having routine cleanings also removes stains and discoloration that can leave your teeth looking dingy. And when you have cleanings twice a year, you’ve got plenty of time to discuss other issues that might be keeping you from enjoying a beautiful, confident smile. Think about it: A typical cleaning appointment at Lowes Island Dentistry takes an hour or less. That means just two hours every year is all it takes to help prevent cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, oral cancer, and systemic diseases. Plus, you’ll have more beautiful teeth and fresher breath in the bargain. What are you waiting for? Book your appointment online today.