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While 85% of Americans believe oral health is important, 42% of American adults don’t visit their dentist enough. Without regular dentist visits, you risk developing periodontitis, tooth decay, oral cancer, and may even lose a few of your pearly whites.

Regular dentist visits are designed to provide your pearly whites with a thorough cleaning to eliminate plaque and tartar, preventing you from gum and mouth disease. Avoiding regular dental checkups could lead to severe (and painful) oral problems later on.

Learn more about what happens during a dental checkup and why it’s essential to keep up with regular appointments.

What Happens at Regular Dentist Visits?

While you may dread your regularly scheduled dental cleaning, it’s an important measure to take if you want a healthy mouth.

First things first, a dental hygienist will perform a physical exam on your pearly whites. He or she will use small mirrors to check for tooth decay and gum disease. If the dental hygienist sees something alarming, your dentist will perform a more in-depth evaluation.

Next, the hygienist will use a scaler to remove tartar and plaque from around your gum line and teeth. After, he or she will brush your pearly whites using a high-powered electric brush to ensure your teeth receive a deep and thorough cleaning.

To finish, the hygienist will provide an expert flossing session. You’ll need to rinse your mouth to remove any blood or particles. Once your mouth is clean, your hygienist will apply a fluoride treatment to protect your teeth from cavities.

After the hygienist is through, your dentist will check in to give the final sign off on your teeth. If you’re due for teeth x-rays, your dentist or hygienist may perform those to check for underlying issues and oral cancer.

Reasons to See Your Dentist Regularly

Regular dental visits ensure your teeth are in tip-top shape. Without them, you risk developing harmful diseases that lead to tooth decay and loss later.

1. Clean Plaque From Your Teeth

Plaque carries harmful bacteria that damage your tooth enamel. If it’s not removed, plaque can lead to cavities and gum disease. Hardened plaque is called tartar.

Dentists and their hygienists remove hard plaque and tartar that develops on your pearly whites over time. While you may brush regularly, sometimes even a toothbrush can’t clear these particles from your mouth. It takes high-quality dental tools to scrape your teeth clean.

2. Inspect Your Gums

During a routine dental checkup, your dentist will evaluate the health of your gums. He or she will look for inflammation and bleeding that could signify gingivitis or periodontitis.

Signs of gum disease include:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Pain while chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Consistently bad breath

A dentist can use a tiny ruler (called a probe) to measure pockets surrounding your teeth. Healthy pockets are between one to three millimeters deep. Anything above or below could be a sign of gum troubles.

If gum disease goes undiagnosed, you risk severe harm to your oral hygiene and overall health.

3. Check for Teeth Problems

While you’re in the dentist chair, your provider will inspect your mouth for cavities, tooth decay, damaged teeth, and loose teeth.

Cavities are best treated as soon as they form. Once a cavity reaches its root, it requires a root canal. Root canals can be very painful, so it’s best to treat cavities as soon as they form.

Other tooth problems should be handled immediately by a professional dentist. The faster you receive dental care, the less harm to your mouth and the less chance you’ll permanently damage (or lose) your teeth.

4. Receive Dental X-Rays

Radiographs, also known as dental x-rays, are in-depth photographs of your teeth. Dentists use them to evaluate your teeth and identify any problems. They emit low levels of radiation and are not harmful.

Your dentist determines when and if you should receive an x-ray based on your:

  • Age
  • Current oral health
  • Gum disease history
  • If you’re experiencing problems or symptoms of an oral disease

Your dental hygienist will guide you through the x-ray process. You’ll be instructed to hold still and may have spacers inserted for the dentist to capture the appropriate angle. With high-quality technology, it only takes a few minutes to get all of the photos taken.

Dental x-rays are a preventative measure to help keep your mouth in excellent condition. Without them, concerning diseases can develop without you realizing.

5. Check Your Bite

While you’re at the dentist, you may be asked to bite down. This is how your dentist evaluates how well your upper and lower teeth fit together.

Ideally, your upper teeth should fit slightly over your lower ones and the points of your molars should fit the grooves of your opposite molars. Dentists consider this a healthy bite.

A normal bite is important for chewing, speaking, breathing, and preventing teeth grinding. If your dentist suspects something abnormal, he or she may recommend braces, tooth removal or repair, or surgery. While your bite may seem normal, it could slowly become irregular and cause problems later down the road.

6. Check for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer includes cancer in your lips, tongue, cheeks, the floor of your mouth, palate, sinuses, and throat. When left undiagnosed and untreated, oral cancer is life-threatening.

Symptoms of oral cancer include:

  • Ear pain
  • Mouth pain
  • Loose teeth
  • Lumps or growths within your mouth
  • White patches inside your mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Difficulty swallowing

Tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure, and a weakened immune system raise your risk of oral cancer.

Regular dental visits include an oral cancer check. During your checkup, your dentist will inspect your mouth and check for signs of oral cancer. Regular dental visits are the best way to catch cancer early and receive fast treatment.

Schedule Your Next Dental Trip

Stay up-to-date with your dental checkups to ensure your mouth remains healthy. Regular dentist visits check for cavities, cancer, gum disease, and give your teeth a much-needed cleaning, so they can keep shining as bright as a diamond.

Is it time to schedule your next trip to the dentist? Meyer Heim Family Dentistry is Highland Ranch’s go-to team for top-of-the-line dental care. Contact us to schedule your next cleaning and we’ll keep your smile shining brighter than ever.