Practicing good oral hygiene doesn’t just mean brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Even the best at-home oral hygiene routine doesn’t replace the need for routine visits to the dentist for cleanings and exams. Read on to find out about three reasons why it’s so important to visit the dentist at least twice a year.
1. Thorough Plaque Removal
Even people who are sincerely devoted to maintaining their oral health can’t remove 100% of the difficult-to-reach plaque from their teeth as well as a Local Family Dentist. Any plaque that doesn’t come off with routine brushing and flossing builds up over time and turns into tartar, and unchecked tartar buildup paves the way for cavities and gum disease.
People who don’t visit the dentist for routine cleanings are much more likely to struggle with poor oral health outcomes. Those who visit the dentist regularly, on the other hand, are less likely to develop cavities and tend to have better-than-average overall oral health. Given how quick and easy it is to schedule and attend twice-yearly cleanings, there’s no excuse for allowing plaque and tartar to build up.
2. Catch Problems Early
When patients head in for professional teeth cleaning, their dentists use it as an opportunity to perform oral examinations. Sometimes, these exams involve taking X-rays to look for problems like impacted teeth, cysts, or bone abnormalities. In most cases, they involve a simple visual check for symptoms of gum disease, oral cancer, and other serious problems.
Dentists perform exams with an eye to providing preventative care. If they notice that a patient’s wisdom teeth are starting to come in, they can check to make sure the molars are not impacted and, if necessary, schedule an extraction before they can cause any other problems. Both gum disease and oral cancer are easiest to treat during their early stages, too, which makes routine exams a vital part of preventing not just poor oral health outcomes but also potentially life-threatening diseases.
3. Get Reliable Advice
Whether dental patients want advice about what foods to avoid or they’re considering cosmetic dental procedures, attending routine cleanings and exams gives them access to the professional opinions they need to make informed choices. Most general dentists offer at least basic cosmetic services, so it’s usually easy for patients to schedule professional teeth whitening or learn about at-home options that will brighten their smiles.
Dentists and hygienists can also offer reliable advice about optimizing home oral hygiene routines. They can answer questions about things like what brands of toothpaste to use when to switch to an electric toothbrush, what kind of bristles to look for, and whether the patient should be using mouthwash. There’s no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to protecting oral health, so don’t be afraid to ask for a professional opinion.
The Bottom Line
The vast majority of people can benefit from scheduling twice-yearly dental exams and cleanings. In very rare cases, dentists recommend annual visits instead for patients whose oral health is already 100% on track. More frequently, they recommend extra cleanings to help prevent the progression of common problems like gingivitis and other forms of gum disease. No one is immune to oral health problems, and every American should schedule and attend visits to the dentist at least once a year, usually twice.