Going to the dentist probably isn’t your favorite thing. Dental checkups are a joke in popular culture, known as tedious, time-consuming, and uncomfortable experiences. And that’s unfortunate because those jokes are based on an outdated idea of what dentistry and dental care are. Most providers now work hard to ensure that their offices are comfortable, welcoming places, that the staff is friendly, and that your visit is as pleasant an experience as possible. It’s a different world now for dentistry, and it would be nice if more people understood that.
All that aside, dental checkups are important to both oral health and overall health. A lot of things happen during a dental checkup that makes a huge difference for you and your smile–ensuring healthy teeth and gums that last a lifetime. So why are dental checkups so important?
Firstly, dental checkups generally involve both an exam and teeth cleaning. This allows your dentist to stay ahead of any potential problems by detecting them early on and taking the necessary corrective action. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s much easier to deal with most dental problems early on. This can be the difference between a simple filling and a root canal, to give you some idea.
The teeth cleaning portion of the check-up is a vital step in maintaining oral health. During a cleaning, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from the teeth, including from below the gum line. This not only improves the appearance of your teeth but also helps treat and prevent gum diseases like gingivitis. Gingivitis, left untreated, can result in permanent damage including tooth loss. It’s a common oral health issue and nothing to sneeze at, so regular cleanings are a vital mode of prevention.
You may have noticed that during a dental exam, your dentist will also examine your neck, jaw, cheeks, lips, and tongue. There’s a good reason for this: they’re checking for signs of other health problems. Dentists are often the first to notice the signs of oral cancer, vitamin deficiencies, and other systemic health problems. Your dental checkup is about more than your teeth–it’s a look into your overall health and a key step in keeping you well.
On a personal level, your dental checkup is a chance to get a professional take on how effective your day-to-day oral hygiene routine is. Your dentist or dental hygienist will let you know if your brushing and flossing are doing the job, if you need to improve your technique, or if a specialized toothpaste, toothbrush, or floss may be needed. By listening to and heeding their advice, you can do your part to keep your teeth and gums clean and happy.
This leads us to our final point: your teeth and gums are yours for life, and the best thing you can do is care for them with a daily brushing and flossing routine. By cleaning your teeth after every meal, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol, you’ll be doing your part to keep your smile bright between dental checkups.