A Look at the Importance of Regular Dental Checkups and Teeth Cleaning

While regular brushing and flossing are essential for oral health, so is visiting your dentist for a dental checkup and teeth cleaning.

A dental checkup looks for signs of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems, while a professional dental cleaning helps prevent these problems.

But how often you need to go will depend on several factors, such as your oral hygiene, habits, and medical conditions.

This article will provide a comprehensive resource for readers looking for more information regarding dental checkups, including what to expect, how often they should have a checkup, and more.

Here’s what you need to know about dental checkups, including what to expect and how often you should have a checkup.

Why Do I Need A Dental Checkup?

Dental checkups look for signs of cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer. So regular dental checkups allow for early detection of dental disease.

With early detection, you and your dentist can prevent and treat oral health issues at a manageable stage. Your dentist can check for oral health problems that you may not see or feel. And your dentist can treat these problems before they get worse, cause you pain, and require advanced treatments, such as root canal treatment.

What Happens During A Checkup?

During a dental checkup, you will have the following:

A Professional Teeth Cleaning

Your dentist or oral hygienist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning. This professional dental cleaning includes scaling, which uses a tool to scrape along and below the gum line to remove plaque and tartar buildup.

Removing plaque and tartar buildup is necessary for preventing gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and other oral health problems.

After scaling your teeth, they will polish and floss your teeth. The polish will remove surface stains on your teeth. And the floss will clean the areas between your teeth.

A Thorough Examination

Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, mouth, and neck for signs of cavities, disease, and other problems. And they will also take x-rays to diagnose problems that are difficult to detect with a visual exam, such as:

  • Decay between teeth
  • Impacted teeth
  • Abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Tumours
  • Damage to jawbones

Assessing Your Oral Health

While regular visits to the dentist can detect signs of oral health issues, you should also keep an eye out for signs of disease and schedule a dentist appointment if you notice changes in your oral health, especially when they involve pain.

Be sure to schedule a dentist appointment if you have a dental emergency, such as persistent tooth pain or damaged teeth, or if you have any of the following symptoms:

Tooth Decay Symptoms

  • Sensitivity to cold, heat, pressure, or sweetness

Gum Disease Symptoms

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding when flossing or brushing
  • Red, swollen, sore, or sensitive gums

Oral Cancer Symptoms

  • White or red patches
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Open sores that don’t heal in 7 to 10 days
  • Thickening or small lumps on your gums, the roof or floor of your mouth, the sides or bottom of your tongue, or the inside of your cheeks

How Often Do You Really Need A Checkup?

The frequency of dental checkups a person needs will vary throughout their lifetime as their oral health needs change.

Most people only need to see their dentist twice a year (every six months), while some only need to go once a year, and others need to visit more frequently.

Your dentist may also recommend that you come in for a follow-up appointment if you had a specific procedure or dental restoration completed.

If you have a low risk of cavities and gum disease, then you can probably visit your dentist once a year. But if you are at a high risk of dental disease, you will need to visit your dentist for a checkup more often, potentially every three to four months.

People who are at high risk of dental disease include:

  • Diabetics
  • Smokers
  • Pregnant women
  • Cancer patients
  • People with heart disease
  • Women who use oral contraceptives
  • Children who have just grown their first permanent teeth (between the ages of 6 and 8)
  • People who have their wisdom teeth growing in
  • People with a weak immune response to bacterial infection
  • People who tend to get cavities and plaque buildup
  • People who currently have gum disease—an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place and can lead to tooth loss

At-Home Dental Care – Best Practices

By taking good care of your oral health at home, you can prevent cavities and gum disease, and potentially lengthen the recommended time between dental checkups.

If your dentist doesn’t find any cavities, signs of gum disease, or other dental problems for a few years, they may choose to lengthen the time between visits.

Plaque, the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease, is always forming on your teeth. But you can manage it by brushing and flossing regularly.

Follow these best practices at home to ensure optimal oral health:

  • Floss daily
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and right before bed
  • Brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Use a soft- and round-bristle toothbrush with a small head to reach your back teeth
  • Brush for at least two minutes
  • Gently brush your tongue
  • Replace your toothbrush when it looks worn, every three months, or when you have a cold
  • Use mouthwash to manage plaque bacteria and keep your breath smelling fresh
  • Limit sugary snacks and drinks—including fruit juice
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products

While every six months is the average recommended time for dental checkups, how often you need to visit your dentist will depend on your overall health, diet, habits, and how well you take care of your teeth.

So if you don’t want to visit the dentist often, take care of your health and your teeth.