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Your dentist misses you! If you haven’t been to the dentist within the last year, you’ve missed out on a great chance to avoid painful cavities and gum disease. Even if you don’t have a routine of going to the dentist, now is the best time to start this healthy habit.
What Is a Dental Check-up?
You shouldn’t only go to the dentist when you feel dental pain or want cosmetic treatment. Dental check-ups provide you with a way to stay on top of your dental health and avoid costly, painful problems that can develop.
Dental check-ups are not the same as treatments. Check-ups fall under preventative care, while treatments are restorative. Therefore, you have check-ups regardless of whether you have dental problems.
During a dental check-up, several things will happen. The various exam steps ensure that your dentist gets a complete picture of your overall dental health.
Your gums, mouth, and teeth will undergo visual examination and X-rays. These exams and x-rays will help the dentist see if you have decay, gum disease, or oral cancer that needs additional evaluation or treatment.
As long as you don’t have gum disease, you will finish your appointment with professional teeth cleaning. This cleaning removes plaque and tartar, making your teeth look clean. If you do have signs of periodontal disease, you’ll need to return for a special type of gum and teeth cleaning called scaling and root planing. This treatment cleans your teeth around the gums to stop the progression of gum disease. Without treatment for periodontitis, you could eventually have loose teeth that fall out.
The length of time you spend at the exam depends on whether you have been to that dentist before. First-time patients often have longer appointments for their first exams to ensure they have time to talk to the dentist about any questions they have.
Why Do You Need Regular Dental Check-ups?
Regular dental check-ups are vital parts of your overall health. First, these visits allow you to talk to your dentist about any questions or concerns you have. For example, if you feel occasional sensitivity, mentioning this during a regular dental check-up can let your dentist know if you have a developing issue they need to address.
Another reason to have dental check-ups is the chance to get oral cancer screening. Oral cancer can develop in anyone, even in people who’ve never used alcohol or tobacco. Therefore, everyone should be screened for this form of cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rates for localized forms of oral cancer are almost always better than for cancers caught after they spread. Consequently, if you have regular screenings, your dentist has a greater chance of finding cancer in its earliest stages when treatment has the greatest chances of success.
Third, some types of dental problems won’t cause pain at first. For instance, dental decay may not cause pain until it reaches the inside of your tooth. Your dentist can find cavities at your regular exams and fill them before they risk your tooth’s health.
Finally, dental check-ups give you the chance to have professional cleanings. Even if you diligently brush and floss daily at home, your home dental equipment cannot remove tartar from your teeth. You must have professional cleanings to get tartar off your teeth.
How Often Do You Need a Dental Check-Up?
So, you know that you need dental check-ups, but how often should you schedule your appointments? The answer may not be what you expect.
For most people with healthy teeth and gums, twice-a-year dental check-ups suffice.
However, some people may need to visit the dentist more frequently throughout the year due to conditions that increase the risk of oral health problems. The following people should talk to their dentist to find out how often to get check-ups:
- Pregnant people
- Heavy drinkers
- People who take medications or undergo medical treatments that cause dry mouth
- Those with a family history of oral cancer
- Individuals who have gum disease
If you fall into one of the above groups or are unsure if you do, talk to your dentist about the proper dental check-up schedule.
What To Do If You Haven’t Been to the Dentist in Years
One of the biggest concerns for many who have not been to the dentist in years is embarrassment. There are many reasons for skipping dental appointments. Dental anxiety, finances, lack of regular visits as a child, or moving are only a few of the reasons that people cannot maintain regular dental appointments.
Luckily, the good news is that your dentist doesn’t care why you haven’t had regular check-ups. They are happy to see you and want to help you to get your teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
If you haven’t had professional dental cleaning or been to the dentist in more than a year, you may need extra deep cleaning of your teeth and gums to combat gum disease or additional treatments to correct problems in your teeth.
Don’t feel embarrassed if you haven’t been to the dentist in years. Your dental team will welcome you and help you get a healthy smile.
How to Overcome Dental Anxiety
If dental anxiety has held you back from seeing a dentist, you can find ways to overcome it.
First, let the dental office know that you have anxiety about the visit. Dental anxiety is prevalent, impacting a majority of adults. The dental staff will work with you to make you feel comfortable throughout your appointment.
Second, if you feel anxiety about discomfort from treatments you may need, talk to the dentist. Options to help you to relax will vary by dental office. At Langley Dental Care, we can give our patients the options of inhaled sedation or oral minimal sedation. Ask the dentist about which options will best suit your needs.
Dental anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back from keeping your twice-a-year dental appointments. Open up communication lines with your dentist today by setting up your appointment. Your dentist is on your team to help you get great care. They have several ways of helping you to overcome your anxiety as long as you ask about them.
Need a Check-Up? Come See Our Team at Langley Dental Care
At Langley Dental Care, we want all our patients to feel welcome. Whether you’ve been coming twice annually for years or haven’t seen a dentist since you were a kid, we’re happy to care for you and your smile. Schedule a time convenient for you to visit us for a dental exam or treatment.