Benefits of a Dental Exam
Perhaps you may be asking why you should go visit the dentist. Well, many people doubt about their dental visits and whether they actually help in any way. Often, people will only get to a dentist if they have a painful tooth, a fractured tooth, or a very sensitive tooth. Many people have an unnecessary fear of the dentist and are afraid it is going to be painful. Preventative and regular oral care is actually much better than putting off coming to see us until there is a problem.
Why Are Regular Dental Cleanings and Exams Important?
Regular dental cleanings and exams are important for maintaining proper oral health, as well as preventing oral health issues from developing. That is why it is recommended that you see the dentist every six months. At Higbee Family Dentistry, we encourage our patients to see our dentist, Dr. Higbee, at least twice a year, and sometimes more often if you have something that is being treated.
A dental exam involves more than just looking at your teeth and gums and cleaning your teeth. While these things are very important, during your dental exam, we will also perform an oral cancer screening. This is a thorough examination of your head, neck, face, mouth, gums, and teeth. We will look for any bumps, discolorations, or any type of oral abnormalities. Oral cancer screenings are a quick, easy, and important way to check for and prevent oral cancers.
Your gums and jawbone will also be examined, looking for any signs of periodontal disease, pulling away of the gums from the teeth, and any bone deterioration. The dentist will also check your mouth for any signs of cavities or infection.
After the dental exam has been completed, a dental cleaning will then be performed. This involves the dental hygienist cleaning your teeth and removing any plaque, bacteria, or tartar that have formed. Regular dental cleanings not only clean your teeth of unwanted and built up plaque, but also helps prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay leads to gum disease, pain, loss of teeth, and the need for additional dental procedures and restorations such as dental implants, bridges, and crowns.
During your dental cleaning, an x-ray will be done in order to detect any oral issues that may be present that cannot be seen visually. An x-ray can see and detect if there is an infection in the tooth root or under the gum line. An x-ray will also give us a clear picture of your jawbone and if there is any deterioration.
There are many benefits to scheduling regular dental exams. These include:[[[DIVSTYLE:margin-left:25px|[[[BulletList:
~giving the dentist an opportunity to identify and treat dental issues before they worsen
~regular oral cancer exams
~keep plaque under control so cavities and gum disease do not develop
~prevent conditions that can develop if you have gum disease, such as diabetes and heart disease
~prevents other conditions from developing which could cause gum recession, tooth loss, and bone loss
~prevent the need for additional dental care and tooth restorations
What Happens if You Don’t Have Dental Exams Regularly?
If you do not go to the dentist regularly for your dental exams and cleanings, plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth, causing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, which is more commonly known as gum disease, is progressive and incredibly destructive to not only the soft tissues of the gums but also the hard tissue of teeth and bone. While in the late stages, the disease cannot be cured, but merely managed.
Patients who perform regular oral hygiene by brushing and flossing at least twice a day are much less likely to develop periodontal disease. Those who skip these seemingly unimportant acts are just inviting gum disease. By simply missing one day of brushing and flossing, the naturally occurring bacteria which is necessary for proper levels to maintain oral cavity health can become incredibly aggressive. Once it becomes destructive it can easily damage sensitive tissues of the mouth. Regular brushing and flossing may be more important than we realized!
While proper oral hygiene practices are always recommended most people fail to realize that it can lead to a disease with no cure. Periodontal disease, once in the latter stages, is a lifelong commitment of managing symptoms. The actual disease can never be eradicated.
Consequences of Gum Disease
When bacteria begin to build up, the initial symptoms may not be all that concerning to patients. It will merely irritate the gums along the gum line and cause them to become bright red. The bacteria can become tartar which is a sticky malleable substance which is difficult to remove with brushing and flossing alone. Agitation can lead to gingivitis which is the earliest stage of periodontal disease.
When patients experience a sensitivity to cold or hot drinks or foods, it can be indicative of the initial stages of gum disease. Also, patients may notice a change in the color of their gums and even cause pain along their jaw while chewing.
The symptoms will only worsen as the disease progresses into the late stages. There can be a discharge between the patient’s teeth and between the teeth and gums. There may also be noticeable sores as well.
When the patient’s gums become weakened to the point that they can no longer properly support their teeth, other symptoms may arise. When this happens, they may notice their teeth becoming loose or the gums pulling away from the base of the teeth. Without the gums supporting them, tooth decay can begin. As it moves through the latter stages, tooth loss can be extensive. With vacated spaces in their mouth, the patient's teeth may shift to the open areas. This will put the remaining teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) under great stress as the teeth contact in different areas.
Treatments Available for Periodontal Disease
The troubling thing about periodontal disease is the fact that it is a lifelong commitment for the patient to have to maintain. They will always have to have multiple periodontal maintenance cleanings done throughout their lives to ensure that teeth do not fall out. This involves a much deeper cleaning than the traditional twice-yearly cleanings that most patients are accustomed to.
Any patient who wants to find out more about periodontal disease or the available treatments, should contact our office at Higbee Family Dentistry.
Schedule Your Next Dental Exam!
As you can see, there are many benefits to scheduling and maintaining regular dental exams. Start by scheduling yours today! Please contact us by phone at (541) 342-1187 to schedule your appointment.