We all know how to take care of our bodies: eat right, exercise, and visit our doctors regularly. But a lot of us skip out on one aspect of our health: seeing the dentist twice a year. We might not look forward to it, but it’s important for keeping a healthy mouth and body. Let’s talk about 6 reasons you should visit your dentist every 6 months.
1. Check for Plaque, Tartar, and Cavities
We know that brushing and flossing every day can remove plaque that causes cavities. But did you know that if you go too long without maintaining oral health habits, plaque can harden into a substance called tartar? Tartar is almost impossible to remove without professional help, and it can result in serious tooth decay and even gum disease. This is why regular checkups are so important. Your dental hygienist can use special instruments to remove tartar and prevent it from causing all sorts of problems. And you’ll have that clean mouth feeling to boot!
2. Look for Gum Disease
About half of all adults in the U.S. will have gum disease at some point, even though it can easily be prevented with regular dental cleanings. Buildup of plaque and tartar can not only erode the teeth, but gum tissue as well. It can cause a bacterial infection in the gums that makes them inflamed. Gum disease has been linked with several other health issues, including diabetes and heart disease.
3. Screen for Oral Cancer
Cancer is a scary word, but if you see your dentist regularly for checkups, it doesn’t have to be. Your dentist has been trained to look for early signs of oral cancer, and if it’s caught early enough, it should be completely treatable.
4. Examine Head, Neck, and Lymph Nodes
Besides checking your mouth for symptoms of oral cancer, your dentist will examine your neck, head, and lymph nodes for any lumps or swelling. Oftentimes you won’t notice any problems until it’s too late, but your dentist is specially trained to notice the signs.
5. Find Hidden Problems with X-Rays
Even though your dentist can detect a lot with his or her naked eye, some problems are completely invisible without extra help. This is why X-rays are helpful. They can help diagnose problems like impacted wisdom teeth before they become a serious issue.
6. Keep Bad Habits in Check
A lot of us have bad habits that can negatively affect our oral health, like biting our nails, chewing on ice, or smoking. Your dentist can evaluate how much these habits are hurting your teeth and gums, and offer you suggestions on how to quit.
Although visiting your dentist every 6 months may not exactly be fun, it’s necessary to staying healthy. Put the same effort into keeping your mouth healthy as you do your body.
About the Author
Dr. Neil Flenniken has almost 20 years of experience in the field of cosmetic, general, and implant dentistry. He is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. To book your next cleaning at his office in Carlisle, PA, contact him at (717) 249-7777.