Most of us don’t go to the dentist enough. In fact, about 40% of Americans don’t go to the dentist at all.
We get it. The dentist isn’t a lot of fun, but it is important. You should make an effort to head to your Woodbridge or Manassas dentist every six months for a check-up.
Not sure why?
Keep reading below to find out why your dental check-up is so important.
What Happens at a Routine Dental Check-Up
Before you can understand the importance of making—and keeping—those routine dental appointments, you have to understand what happens at one of them.
Here’s a quick look at what to expect during your dental check-up.
Go Over Your History (If It’s Your First Appointment)
Start by finding a dentist in your area. A quick Google search with the phrase “dentist near me” should give you plenty of options.
If you haven’t been to the dentist before (or if you switched offices), you’ll start by going over your dental history. This will give your dentist important information about what oral condition’s you have or that you’ve had in the past.
Make sure you also mention any other health conditions you might have, such as arthritis or diabetes. While this information might not seem relevant, sharing it will help you get the best treatment for your needs.
Let the dentist know if you’re taking any mediation, and talk to them about any concerns or anxieties you might have. Don’t shy away from this topic.
About 40 million people have some type of dental phobia.
In other words, you aren’t alone. If your dentist knows about your anxieties, they can help you work through them and adjust how to work to help you stay calm.
After they get a clear picture of your medical history, your dentist will start their dental examination.
They’ll use a small mirror and a light to help them see around each of your teeth. But your teeth isn’t the only thing they’re looking at. Your dentist will also examine the following:
- Tissues in your mouth
As they examine your mouth, they’ll check for any sign of disease, infection, or damage, such as gum disease, cavities, broken teeth, etc.
Once they finish their examination, your dentist will then give you a dental cleaning.
First, they’ll scrape off any plaque or tartar that has built up on the surface of your teeth. After that, they’ll floss between every tooth to dislodge any extra gunk. Then your dentist will polish your teeth to get rid of any last debris.
This will also make your teeth smooth, which both feels good and helps prevent any plaque from gathering there again.
But just because the dentist cleans your teeth during your check-up doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush and floss yourself before you go. Showing up to your appointment with dirty teeth makes it harder for your dentist to examine your mouth properly.
Most dental check-ups will involve taking x-rays of your mouth. This lets your dentist see what’s happening inside your jaw under the surface.
You’ll have to bite down on a piece of plastic (specially designed for x-rays) as the dentist takes x-ray images of both sides of your face. The process if pretty quick, and the dentist might leave the room afterward to study the pictures.
The final dental exam of your dental check-up involves the x-ray images rather than your actual mouth.
Your dentist will study these images to find out if there are any fractures in your jaw, bone loss, problems with the roots of your teeth, etc. They’ll also check for any jaw alignment issues or oral cancers.
Once they’ve finished the final exam, your dentist will present the results to you. They’ll let you know if they found anything and—if they did—recommend the appropriate treatment.
Even if they don’t find anything, your dentist might give you advice about how to clean your teeth, how to stop a bad oral hygiene habit, or when to set up your next appointment.
For example, if your dentist noticed you have a cavity or two, they might not be able to treat it the same day. In that cause, they’ll probably recommend you schedule another appointment for the near future so they can take care of it then.
This is also a good time to ask any questions you might have. And remember, don’t be shy about asking questions. Your dentist has the answers, and they want to help you be as healthy as you can be.
5 Reasons Regular Dentist Check-Ups Are Important
Now that you have a basic understanding of what happens at routine dentist check-ups, let’s take a look at why showing up to these appointments is so important.
Here are five of the most compelling reasons to keep scheduling these check-ups.
1. Spot Early Signs of Tooth Decay
Going to the dentist every six months (which is what we recommend for your regular check-ups) gives your dentist the ability to spot early signs of tooth decay. This allows them to treat the issue while the damage is still small.
Without regular dental appointments, tooth decay can form and spread without you even knowing about it. By the time you realize something’s wrong, you might need to remove the entire tooth and replace it with an implant.
This isn’t only uncomfortable, but it also costs a lot of money.
Catching the decay early on keeps you pain-free and keeps your money in your bank account. It also means you won’t have to see an emergency dentist when something bad happens.
Getting regular dental check-ups also helps prevent tooth decay from happening in the first place. Since your dentist cleans your teeth every time you visit, the risk of decay goes way down.
And all it takes is two appointments a year.
2. Prevent a Build-Up of Plaque
Plaque is one of the factors that cause tooth decay. But that’s not all. If plaque builds up on the surface of your teeth, it can also lead to a gum disease.
Plaque can even affect other parts of your body.
If your oral health is poor, you might develop one or more of these conditions:
- Heart disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
When you go in for your dental check-ups, your dentist will remove any plaque build-up from your teeth. This will keep your teeth clean and protect you from a number of other diseases.
3. Reduce the Risk of Gum Disease
We’ve already briefly mentioned gum disease above, but gum disease can be a serious health concern.
There are several different types of gum disease you can develop. The most common, and most harmless, is called gingivitis. This will make your gums swollen and sensitive. They might even bleed at times.
But if you aren’t careful, this minor gum disease can progress into a much more serious issue. For example, you can get severe periodontal. This type of gum disease destroys the jawbone that supports your teeth. Because of this, you might experience loose teeth or teeth that fall out.
By keeping your teeth clean and examining your gums carefully, routine dental check-ups can greatly reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
4. Diagnose Dental Diseases Early
During your oral examination, your dentist may also check other areas of your head, such as your neck, jaw, and lymph nodes. These are located right below your jawbone, and they can form lumps, start swelling, or cause other problems.
In fact, your lymph nodes can even develop several different kinds of cancer.
But most of the time, your lymph nodes won’t feel weird, painful, or at all different even if something is wrong. So without normal check-ups, you might develop an issue without even knowing about it.
Your dentist will also check for any other oral diseases during your routine appointments. This means they can catch any issues early and start treatment before they become too serious.
5. Find Hidden Issues
Many potential issues happen below the surface of your mouth, such as with the roots of your teeth. Because you can’t see these issues yourself, they can be hard to spot.
The x-rays your dentist will take during your routine appointments will help them find any of these hidden issues. That means you don’t have to worry about something you can’t see on your own.
Schedule Your Next Woodbridge Dental Check-Up Today
It’s never a good idea to go more than six months without a dental appointment. Though a simple dental check-up may not seem important, it can prevent the development of dangerous diseases.
Has it been a while since your last dental appointment?
Make sure you click here to get in touch with us today and schedule a check-up in the Woodbridge area!