Going to visit your dentist for that twice-annual checkup is rarely fun. Lying in a chair while someone pokes and prods at your teeth and gums with various instruments seems like reason enough to skip the whole process and just do a better job of brushing at home. But there are some things that only your dentist can do — and taking an hour or two out of your day twice a year can help prevent a plethora of serious dental problems. If you’re thinking about skipping your next appointment, or if you haven’t been to the dentist for a proper checkup for a few years, going in for a professional cleaning can potentially save you a lot of trouble.
Just Brushing Isn’t Enough
Despite your best efforts at brushing and flossing, you’ll inevitably end up missing something. Your brush may not be capable of scraping off the plaque and tartar that develops on your teeth over time, and your floss can’t always grab everything. The advantage to visiting a dentist on a regular basis is that they have a variety of tools that can clean your teeth much better than your standard brush can.
What Cleaning Entails
The cleaning process isn’t just meant to undo damage — it’s meant to prevent damage from happening in the first place. While there is cleaning involved, your dentist may take other steps to check your teeth and gums for various issues.
- Your dentist may take X-rays of your teeth to look for decay and cavities, then inspect your gums and teeth to look for gum disease like Gingivitis or Periodontal Disease.
- A standard teeth cleaning involves removing plaque from your teeth and polishes them as well using a paste. Your dentist may use different tools to accomplish this, such as an ultrasonic cleaner, a water sprayer and a hand scraper. While mildly uncomfortable, it is not generally a painful process.
- If necessary, your dentist may perform a full mouth debridement, which is done when teeth have not been cleaned for some time and there is heavy buildup of tartar and calculus. Your dentist may use the ultrasonic cleaner, which fractures the calculus for easier removal, as well as a periodontal scaler and periodontal curette.
Why Waiting Can Hurt
Even if you think you have great dental hygiene, it’s worth getting a check up on a consistent basis just to make sure. When it comes to your dental health, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry. If bacteria is left to build up in your mouth, it can cause problems more serious than a simple cleaning can alleviate.
- Gingivitis: Symptoms of gingivitis include inflamed bright red or purple gums that are tender and bleed easily. This process can sometimes be reversed by thorough care of your teeth, but if not it can progress to something more serious, like periodontitis.
- Cavities: Cavities are the decaying of your teeth’s hard tissues, like enamel, dentin and cementum, as a result of a bacterial infection. If caught in early stages the affected teeth can be essentially restored, but heavy damage cannot be reversed.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis is left untreated, the bones and ligaments that support your teeth can become infected and weakened. Pockets may appear in your gums and your teeth may loosen to the point of falling out.
Whatever the current state of your teeth, getting a checkup sooner is better than waiting until later. Visiting a dentist, such as Pacer Dental, for a routine checkup can help you find out what problems you might currently have, as well as what steps you can take to correct any problems and prevent future issues.