We know, we know: dentist visits aren’t everyone’s favorite appointments; however, while most people don’t look forward to dental checkups, they are crucial to your overall health. Health professionals recommend having a regular dental check-up every six months to maintain healthy teeth and gums. However, these visits are not just about keeping your teeth clean and healthy.

During your routine dental checkups, you will be checked for abnormalities that may otherwise go unnoticed. For instance, signs and symptoms of diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes may sometimes appear in the mouth first. Dental professionals also make sure your bones are strong, and they can help you correct bad habits that might be sabotaging your health. When these things are caught at routine dental exams, your dentist can refer you to a doctor to have it treated more quickly.

Skipping dentist visits might not seem like a big deal, but health issues can develop and progress very quickly if you don’t stay on top of your dental checkups. Here at Advanced Dental Care of Anderson, we believe in the importance of regular dental checkups, so we’ve created this helpful guide of what to expect at cleanings and why they’re important!

What Happens at a Check-Up?

When you go to the dentist for your routine six-month cleaning, your appointment will be divided into two separate parts: the examination and the cleaning. Generally, a hygienist cleans your teeth and gums first. This is the longest part of the visit, but it is incredibly important. Dental hygienists are trained to get all the plaque and tartar off your teeth, something you can’t do at home. Plaque is a sticky, clear layer of bacteria that if not removed can harden and become tartar.

During the examination, your dentist will check for cavities. X-rays may be taken to check for cavities between your teeth, if necessary. The dentist will also check your gums and other parts of your mouth and neck for signs of disease. This is usually the quickest and most painless part of your dental visit.

Now that you understand exactly what happens at a routine dental checkup, we can dive into why they are so important.

Removing Tartar

If you haven’t maintained consistent or proper brushing and flossing at home, plaque can build up on your teeth and harden into tartar, which cannot be removed with simple brushing and flossing at home. During the cleaning part of your visit, your dental professional will use special tools to remove tartar.

Even for some people who are regular brushers and flossers, there are small areas in the mouth that are easily missed which need to be cleaned during dental visits. Tartar most commonly leads to cavities by eroding teeth or creating holes in them. Once this happens, you will have to return to the dentist to have the cavities filled. This can be avoided by keeping up with regular dental visits.

Gum Disease

Another important part of routine dental visits that can’t be done at home is checking your gums for signs of disease. Your dentist will do this with a special tool that measures the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums. As plaque and tartar build-up, the mouth’s gum tissues can become eroded due to an infection known as gingivitis, which leads to deeper spaces between teeth and gums. Once the tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth breaks down, the issue has officially progressed to gum disease, which begins to cause swelling, bleeding, and pain.

Gingivitis can also breakdown the bone that holds teeth in place, which can cause teeth to loosen or even fall out. Advanced gum disease requires a copious amount of care, often beyond what your general dentist can provide. Treatment may involve surgeries, medications, extensive cleanings, and more. Keeping up with your routine dental checkups can help you avoid such issues, as your dentist will be able to catch the gum disease before it ever gets that far.

Catching Disease Early

Arguably the most important benefit of routine dental exams is that dentists can uncover abnormalities in your mouth, neck, or jaw that can be early indicators of disease. With just a mirror, you cannot really see what’s going on under your gums, nor would you know what to look for.

At your dental checkups, dentists will examine you for signs of mouth, head, and neck cancer and check for any swelling or lumps in your mouth, gums, and tongue, as well as your neck, jaw, and lymph nodes. Dentists can spot these potential problems during your visits and help you be proactive in taking care of yourself!

If you are overdue for your routine dental checkup, don’t wait any longer! Request an appointment with Advanced Dental Care of Anderson and schedule your visit today. You’ll be glad you did!