Approximately 25.9 percent of adults in the U.S. have untreated dental caries (cavities). Could you be one of them?
If it's been a while since you had a regular dental check-up, that's highly likely.
Even if you're not dealing with issues like tooth sensitivity or pain, it's still important to prioritize regular check-ups. Read on for 5 reasons to schedule an appointment with the dentist today.
1. Prevent Tooth Decay
Regular check-ups help to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. When plaque and tartar get out of control, especially in hard-to-reach places like the back of the mouth, it's easy for tooth decay and cavities to develop.
Remember, 92 percent of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth. When you get your teeth cleaned by a professional a couple of times per year, you can keep plaque and tartar at bay and reduce your chances of being part of this group.
2. Prevent Gum Disease
Getting check-ups regularly can also help you to avoid gum disease.
In the early stages, gum disease typically doesn't have any symptoms. This makes it hard for the average person to tell that anything is wrong. A dentist, though, knows what to look for to catch gum disease early on.
If your dentist catches signs of gum disease during a check-up, they can give you advice on how to improve your oral hygiene habits and prevent it from getting worse.
3. Avoid Excessive Dental Treatments
Some people put off going to the dentist because the idea of sitting in a chair and having their teeth worked on makes them anxious. It's important to note, though, that if cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease are left unchecked, they can escalate into more serious dental issues.
You might end up experiencing severe toothaches, for example, or develop loose permanent teeth that ultimately need to be pulled. To correct these kinds of issues, you may end up needing invasive treatments like root canals to correct the problem, or you might have to have your teeth pulled altogether and replaced with implants or dentures.
These kinds of treatments are time-consuming, uncomfortable, and expensive. They also mean more time in the dentist's chair. Regular check-ups reduce the likelihood that you'll have to deal with them, though.
4. Prevent Chronic Health Issues
Untreated tooth decay is linked to a variety of health problems, including chronic diseases. The following are some of the most well-known conditions associated with poor oral health:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Sleep apnea
Pregnancy and birth complications have also been linked to unhealthy teeth and gums.
5. Catch Signs of Oral Cancer Early
Regular dental care and check-ups can also help you to catch signs of oral cancer early. When left untreated, oral cancer can escalate into a serious, life-threatening illness.
During the check-up, a dentist can check for dead tissue (which is caused by tumors). This quick process (it only takes about a minute) is easy, and it can save your life.
If cancer runs in your family, or if you just want to be extra cautious, you should definitely make dental check-ups (and oral cancer screenings, specifically) a priority.
Dental Check-Up FAQs
If it's been a while since you had a dental check-up, you might be a little nervous about it. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that you might have that can put your mind at ease:
What Happens During a Check-Up?
A dental check-up is a simple, straightforward procedure. Most appointments include a dental exam and a thorough cleaning.
During the exam, the dentist will look at and check for the following:
- Signs of gum disease
- Loose teeth
- Bite (the way your teeth align when you bite together)
- Signs of tooth decay
- Broken teeth
- Damaged fillings
- Changes in the gums
- Dental appliances
The dentist will also take x-rays to check for issues that might not be visible during a regular exam, too.
How Often Should I Get a Check-Up?
Most experts recommend getting a check-up once every 6 months. Two check-ups per year, for most people, are sufficient to keep the teeth clean, promote healthy gums, and catch potential issues early on.
Do Kids Need Regular Dental Check-Ups?
Yes. Some people assume that dental check-ups for kids aren't important because they're just going to lose their baby teeth. In reality, though, check-ups for kids are essential.
When kids get regular check-ups, they're less likely to deal with cavities and other oral health issues that can affect their permanent teeth. They're more likely to have healthy oral hygiene habits when they grow up, too.
How Much Is a Dental Check-Up?
Your dental check-up cost will vary depending on a lot of factors, including whether or not you have dental insurance.
When you schedule your appointment, a dental assistant can help you figure out how much you'll need to pay for your check-up so you can be prepared. They can also help you put together a payment plan that works for your budget.