A dental checkup/cleaning is about more than making your smile a little brighter, these checkups have a significant impact on your oral and general health. Most dentists agree, having two checkups a year is ideal and will reduce the number of oral problems you encounter, immensely. Some patients (usually with an underlying illness) are required to have a checkup 3-4 times a year, but most of us can get away with semi-annual cleanings.
The question is: why? Why is it so important to stay consistent with your checkups? That’s what we hope to answer in this article.
PREVENTING GUM DISEASE
Bacteria and tartar build up in your mouth, skipping a cleaning gives them more time to spread and cause damage. After enough time the tartar can destroy the bone that supports your teeth, which immediately leads to tooth loss. Gum disease, also known as “periodontitis” is often preventable; from brushing and flossing daily, with routine checkups.
We’ve known for years now that there is a strong connection between the condition of your gums and your heart. We’re still making new discoveries with how your mouth health affects your general health, but we do know that getting your teeth cleaned regularly prevents periodontitis, which in turn decreases your risk of heart attack or stroke.
Experts predict this year, that 5,400 Canadians will be diagnosed with oral cavity cancer. Of those, approximately only 3,900 are expected to survive. Knowing this is frustrating for dentists because most oral cancers are curable if detected early which is why scanning the mouth for signs of cancers is now a regular part of your semi-annual checkup.
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR CHECKUP MORE ENJOYABLE
Having to visit your dentist twice a year might be a bit nerve-racking for some. We’d like to these tips to help make the experience more pleasant:
- TAKE PAIN MEDICATION. An over-the-counter pain killer such as Tylenol can help reduce inflammation during and after the treatment. It can also help keep you more relaxed during the cleaning.
- COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR DENTIST. Dentists need to be on the same page as their patients before and during checkups. Don’t be shy about communicating your concerns with the dentist, in fact, your concerns could be a sign of an underlying problem. For example, if you can’t stand the polisher because you have sensitive teeth, the dentist will want to know and will probably be able to help.
- REQUEST A NUMBING GEL. Many dentists stock an array of gels to numb your gums that can make your checkup much more comfortable. The gels work right away, so it doesn’t delay the dentist, they also wear off pretty quickly, often by the time you’re back home.
- ATTEND YOUR REGULAR CLEANINGS. I understand this is hard to do, especially if you don’t enjoy your semi-annual checkup, however, skipping your cleanings will only make the next one worse. The longer you go between visits, the more time tartar has to build up. Tartar leads to discoloration of the tooth and causes the hygienist to take longer during the next cleaning. It’s likely that longer appointments will make the cleaning feel more aggressive than two mild cleanings.
- ORAL SEDATION. Many patients ask for oral sedation to reduce any discomfort or anxiety they might feel. The most common form of sedation is from a pill, it may not make you completely unconscious, but you will feel relaxed, drowsy, and unaware of any pain.