Do I Really Need Regular Dental Checkups?
With regular dental care, your teeth can stay healthy and last for your lifetime. That’s the best reason to commit to an at-home regimen of brushing and flossing AND regular dental checkups. If you neglect your teeth, you may not become aware of any dental problems until your teeth are already damaged. Regular visits to the dentist can save you time and money, and help you maintain an attractive and healthy smile.
There are two parts to a regular dental visit – the checkup, or examination and the cleaning, or oral prophylaxis.
1. The Dental Checkup.
Your dental professional will examine your overall oral health for any trouble areas:
- Cavities. X-rays might be taken to detect cavities between your teeth.
- Plaque and tartar. Plaque is a clear, sticky layer of bacteria which accumulates on your teeth and can harden and turn into tartar, causing oral diseases. Your brushing and flossing cannot remove tartar.
- Gums will be checked with a special tool that measures the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums. With healthy gums, those spaces are shallow. When people have gum disease, the spaces, or pockets, may become deeper.
- Careful examination of your tongue, throat, face, head, and neck to look for any signs of trouble – swelling, redness, or possible symptoms of cancer.
2. Teeth Cleaning.
- Brushing and flossing at home help clean the plaque from your teeth, but not tartar. During a professional cleaning, specialized tools are used to remove tartar. This is called scaling.
- After your teeth are cleaned, they may be polished using a gritty paste which helps to remove any surface stains on your teeth.
- Finally, your dental professional will use floss to clean the areas between your teeth.
Regular dental visits are important in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. It may seem cheaper today to skip regular dental exams, but it can be more expensive in the long run. Regular visits to the dentist’s office catch problems early and prevent serious damage to the teeth that can be painful and costly to repair.
Your Dental Health Options
Everyone has unique needs when it comes to dental treatment. A schedule of dental checkups twice a year works well for most people who have average teeth. A few people can get away with fewer visits whereas others need to go more often. Always consult with your dentist to determine the schedule that is appropriate for you. For my patients, I recommend a dental exam and professional cleaning every six months.
Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry in his Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment to discuss your oral health needs.