According to recent data from the American Dental Association, most American adults visit the dentist at least once a year. Most of these people receive a dental examination every six months, with a much smaller percentage, around 10%, visiting more often. But are all of these dental visits necessary? Is daily brushing and flossing enough to maintain optimal dental health? Do most people need to see a dental professional twice a year?
Professional Dental Cleanings
Professional dental cleaning is essential to a comprehensive dental exam and accomplishes much more than brighten your smile. Gum disease is a severe infection of the soft tissues of the mouth that help keep the teeth in place. These infections begin as an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the oral cavity caused by ineffective tooth and gum care. When patients agree to see a local dentist for care, their gums are inspected for early signs of damage.
When caught early, gum disease is treatable, but if the infection continues, it can cause irreversible damage to the gums, teeth, and supporting jawbone. Some advanced gum disease cases require oral surgery to correct, and extensive injury to the affected tissue often results in tooth loss. Due to the vital link between gum disease and cardiovascular health, regular dental exams and cleanings significantly lower the risks of heart attacks and strokes.
Most dental insurance carriers provide coverage for dental x-rays each year, and these images give the dentist valuable information regarding the status of the teeth in ways not visible to the naked eye. Tooth decay and cavities located deep within a tooth or underneath a current filling are examples where dental x-rays, or radiographs, are essential to providing complete oral care—waiting until the disease is further along results in more significant destruction of delicate tissue.
Radiographs have particular significance for pediatric patients since they allow the dentist to see the position of permanent teeth before breaking through the gum line, permitting adjustments to primary teeth to lessen the chances of required orthodontic care when the patient is older.
Preventative dental care is one of the principal benefits of regularly visiting the dentist and saves time and money while reducing your chances of facing a painful, drawn-out dental procedure. Identifying oral problems early often provides additional treatment options and, in some cases, can reverse a potential defect or disease with adjustments to the brushing and flossing regime.
Fortunately, personal behavior is the most substantial part of an effective preventative dentistry program. Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing removes plaque from tooth surfaces and often difficult-to-reach areas between teeth. By eliminating plaque, you reduce the number of harmful mouth bacteria that cause tooth decay and damage gums.
Guarding the teeth against damage from outside sources is equally important to keep your mouth healthy. If you participate in contact sports like basketball or soccer, wear a mouth guard to protect against injury. Exercise caution when consuming hard foods like candies or foods containing hard bones, seeds, or pits to lessen the chances of cracking or chipping a tooth.
Smoking and using tobacco products increases plaque on teeth and under the gumline, substantially increasing the risks of developing gum disease and oral cancers. Smoking also increases bodywide inflammation and prolongs recovery time after a dental procedure.