As a society, we tend to be pretty good at ensuring children get the pediatric dental care needed for their health, and pretty terrible at carrying that through to adulthood. Annual trips for a dental checkup are actually a really accurate example of this – we all know how important it is to take children to the dentist at least once a year to make sure their teeth are healthy, and if possible, straight. We start this from a very young age, despite the fact that the teeth they have in the first five years of their lives are going to fall out and they’ll get a second chance at dental health. Why do we do this? Largely, so children learn early about good dental hygiene and form good habits when they’re still at their most impressionable stage of development.
So why do most adults skip their annual dental checkup, when we work so hard to develop those healthy habits as children?
Annual dental checkups are even more important for adults than they are for children. After all, adults are stuck with the teeth they have, and unfortunately as we age, so do our teeth.
How The Dental Checkup Works
Your annual check up is really two parts – a dental cleaning and an examination.
The truth is, that annual dental cleaning is an important part of your dental health. Regular brushing simply doesn’t clean as well as your hygienist will. Plaque removal can be done at home, but tartar removal can’t – that requires special tools and technique. If your brushing technique or habits need improvements, your hygienist can guide you toward a more effective method.
During the examination portion of your dental checkup, the dentist will check not just your teeth but the surrounding area – your gums, tongue, mouth, throat, jaw, face and neck. This checkup looks for signs of early trouble, such as cancer, gum disease, tooth decay, and of course cavities. If caught early, these issues are much easier to treat and manage. Ignored, they can all become serious health risks.
Dental x-rays are important part of every dental visit to ensure everything under the surface is healthy. Not every tooth issue results in a toothache, so x-rays can identify issues before they become larger problems.
According to The Mayo Clinic, your oral health is a window into your overall health. By keeping a close eye on your oral health, you can help ensure larger systemic problems are caught and treated early – such as diabetes, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Poor oral hygiene can contribute to things like endocarditis and cardiovascular disease.
While an annual checkup is important, most experts actually recommend visiting your dentist every six months – particularly if you’re prone to oral health issues or have genetic risks for conditions that affect oral health.
If you haven’t been in for a dental checkup in a while, there’s no better time than now to make an appointment and get your oral health and hygiene back on track!