Many people see their dentist and dental hygienist more often than their primary care doctor. If you have fairly good oral health, we typically recommend semi-annual professional cleanings and exams. If you have active periodontal disease or a history of periodontal disease, then we may see you even more frequently. But why is it important to stay regular with your dental visits?
Having your teeth professionally cleaned a few times a year helps to prevent bone loss and gum loss around the teeth. Persistent loss of either can result in pain or even tooth loss. Even if you have excellent home care, there are certain areas that cannot be adequately maintained. For example: many of us build calculus on our lower front teeth. This calculus is a hard collection of bacteria that cannot be brushed or flossed away. If it is not routinely cleaned, it may lead to cavities and gum disease. The dentist or hygienist have specialized instruments that can clean and polish these areas to prevent any unwanted progression.
During each cleaning appointment, we complete an oral cancer screening. Much like visiting the dermatologist, we look for any areas that may be new or changing. This could be areas that are red, white, or ulcerated. There are some areas you can see and examine at home, but there are a lot of areas that you are unable to identify. If we find an area of concern, we will measure the area and take a picture. A few weeks later we will follow up to see if anything has changed. If we become very suspicious of a particular area, we may refer you to a specialist for a biopsy and diagnosis. Even though these areas are not extremely common, it is important to identify as early as possible to improve the prognosis.
The most commonly known reason that we recommend frequent visits is to check for tooth decay. The earlier we identify a cavity, the better the prognosis. A small filling can become a really big problem if not addressed quickly. This may lead to bigger fillings, crowns, root canals, or even tooth loss.
If you have questions regarding how often you should have a professional cleaning and exam, feel free to call us and ask any questions you may have. You can also visit www.dentistwestchester.com for more information.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS