Why You Should See Your Dana Point Dentist Every Six Months
Standard advice from the American Dental Association (ADA) is to visit a dentist twice a year for a check-up. These dental exams are the cornerstone of preventive care in modern dentistry.
Seeing your Dana Point dentist every six months will help you maintain optimum oral health and avoid expensive restorative treatments later. Oral health issues such as tooth decay and gum disease may go unnoticed during the early stages. Regular check-ups allow your dentist to diagnose any problems to enable early intervention – often crucial for the best outcome.
Your dental exam appointment will also include a professional cleaning (oral prophylaxis) by the dentist or dental hygienist. In some cases, you may need to visit your dentist more often than every six months.
What Happens During a Dental Exam?
During six-monthly routine appointments, your dentist will examine your overall oral health. This includes how each part of your mouth works together with others. They’ll also check your bite (occlusion), teeth alignment, and condition of jawbone.
Specifically, your dentist will be looking for signs of:
Cavities are holes in teeth caused by decay penetrating dental enamel – the protective, outer layer of a tooth. Left untreated, they gradually become bigger, and deeper cavities can reach the pulp in the hollow center of a tooth. The infection can also spread to other areas of the body via the bloodstream. Your dentist will probe your teeth, looking for soft spots. Besides examining enamel, they’ll take X-rays to monitor the condition of the underlying dentin layer.
The dentist will look for deep pockets between your gums and teeth. These indicate periodontitis (gum disease). The condition of your gums may also provide clues to any problems with your overall health. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) advises adults to have a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) every year.
Your dentist will check for accumulation of plaque – the sticky coating that forms on teeth. Plaque causes both tooth decay and gum disease. If plaque is allowed to build up, it calcifies into tartar, which is impossible to remove by brushing and flossing.
More than 100 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every day. Your dentist will look for issues with your tongue, throat, neck and face that could indicate cancer, including:
- Ulcers, lesions or sores that don't heal.
- Blocked salivary glands.
- Discolored patches on the tongue.
Early treatment for oral cancer significantly improves the chance of a good outcome, but most cases are not diagnosed until the later stages.
Your six-monthly check-up can also reveal conditions such as diabetes and sinusitis. Diabetes – excessive blood sugar – can result in gum abscesses or swelling due to inability to counter bacterial infection. Sinusitis can be confused with a dental problem when the problem is actually infection of nasal cavities. Your dentist will know the difference.
Benefits of Regular Dental Check-Ups
Visiting your Dana Point dentist for a check-up every six months can detect problems before they become serious. This means treatment is likely to be simpler, less costly, and more effective.
For example, tooth extraction and replacement with dentures or dental implants can be avoided by:
- A filling or root canal to correct tooth decay.
- Periodontal treatment for gum disease.
Other benefits of regular dental exams include:
- Stopping problems before they start. Regular dental exams can prevent many potential issues from developing in the first place, even if you have no apparent symptoms.
- Avoiding treatment complications. Your dentist will review your medical history during your check-up. This helps to ensure no complications arise during any future dental treatment.
- Protecting your overall health. The condition of your oral health can provide warning signs of issues with your overall wellbeing, and dental problems can impact other areas of your body if undetected.
- Getting a professional cleaning to brighten your smile.
Benefits of Professional Teeth Cleaning
Dental cleanings incorporated into six-monthly check-ups give you a sparkling, stain-free smile and leave your mouth and breath feeling fresh. Furthermore, they help you avoid issues with your general wellbeing as well as problems with your oral health. Bacteria thrive in the mouth and some of them cause infection and inflammation, which can spread to vital organs.
Professional teeth cleaning not only removes plaque but also eliminates tartar. Once plaque has hardened into tartar (dental calculus), it can only be removed by a dental professional. Dentists and dental hygienists use a dental mirror and specialized instruments to remove deposits of plaque and tartar without damaging your teeth. An ultrasonic device can be used to help remove larger pieces of tartar. Fluoride can be applied to your teeth after the cleaning process. This strengthens enamel to provide an extra barrier against decay.
Why You Might Need to See Your Dentist More Often
While six-monthly dental check-ups are the norm, your Dana Point dentist may want to see you more frequently if you have an ongoing oral health concern or increased risk factors, such as:
- Excessive plaque and tartar build-up. Your mouth may generate high levels of plaque and tartar because of genetics or poor oral hygiene.
- Gum disease. If you have gum disease, you should see your dentist at least every three months to monitor the condition.
- Smoking. Tobacco use increases your risk of oral cancer, gum disease and other oral infections.
- Persistent bad breath. Chronic bad breath (halitosis) can be a warning sign of gum disease or other oral health issues.
- Pregnancy. Hormones released during pregnancy can increase the risk of gum disease.
- Heart disease. Poor oral health can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Certain health conditions and their treatments also make it advisable to see your dentist more often. Diseases such as cancer and diabetes can lead to oral inflammation and other dental issues. If your immune system is weakened in general for any reason, it’s a good idea to get more frequent dental cleanings.
Schedule Your Next Dental Check-Up Now
If you’ve lapsed with your regular dental exams, the sooner you get checked out, the better. It’ll give you peace of mind that your oral health is on track or enable early treatment for any problems.