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Dental Care – Importance of Periodic Dentist Office Visits

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that patients pay a visit to their dentist office at least once every six months. This should be considered a baseline minimum in addition to regular brushing and flossing. If you are not seeing your dentist twice a year, you are not prioritizing your oral hygiene enough, and you might begin to see negative results.

Special Dental Care

There are some patients with advanced gum disease that are recommended to see their dentist and dental hygienist once every three or four months. Sometimes this is a result of situational and environmental factors and other times it’s a result of genetics. It is important to learn what is best for your specific needs and find a way to accommodate those, whether it be more often dental visits or more thorough home care. Sometimes a small upgrade to your routine in the form of an electric toothbrush or a commitment to floss can make fast, significant improvements in your dental hygiene.

Home Dental Hygiene

Regular Schedule

In addition to your routine minimum twice yearly dental cleanings, it is also essential to keep up with your oral hygiene at home as well. Regular flossing and brushing at least twice per day will keep you from developing deeper long-term dental issues. Mouthwash is a helpful addition as well, but it does not replace flossing or brushing. The use of a water flosser is also very beneficial, but it does not take the place of regular traditional floss and should be used as a supplement.

Dental Floss

There are many different flosses on the market today. This is encouraging, because if the first floss you try does not perform to your expectations, you can try another. Some people prefer woven floss, which tends to be thicker and less maneuverable, but it does a fantastic job getting interproximal plaque and debris out of your mouth. Others prefer waxed floss, which easily gets in between the teeth but can sometimes be less of a thorough clean.

Toothbrush Selection

Soft-bristled toothbrushes are best recommended. Anything harder can be too abrasive on your enamel and cause uneven wear on your teeth, leading to sensitivity. Electric toothbrushes are preferred but you can still get a good clean from a traditional manual soft-bristled toothbrush. Just be sure that you are using it properly and spending enough time brushing. It is recommended to spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth every session, or thirty seconds per quadrant. Spending this much time in each area helps to ensure you are reaching every nook and cranny to get a thorough clean.

Detected Mouth or Teeth Problems

When you identify a problem with your teeth or mouth, you should call your general dentist and make an appointment as soon as possible. In dentistry, problems rarely resolve themselves on their own. Most ailments require some sort of attention from a dental professional in order to be properly repaired.

  • A small chip on the surface, if ignored, can become a fractured tooth that requires extraction and implant. A sore spot on the gum left untreated will lead to a diagnosis down the road of periodontal disease.
  • A tooth that is occasionally sensitive to sweets or temperature could have a small cavity. When cavities are not addressed early-on, they continue to grow, and the decay will spread outward to the teeth on either side and internally towards the root of the tooth. This can lead to infection, abscess, and root canals which will need to be restored with composite fillings and porcelain crowns.
  • A major reason why the ADA recommends biannual dental cleanings is because many problem areas don’t present themselves as painful until they have grown to be a bigger issue. Preventative cleanings and dental exams catch decay and defects early-on, so that they don’t become a more major problem down the road.
  • Sometimes, serious long-term diseases such as diabetes or HIV, will reveal themselves first as a dental issue before presenting symptoms elsewhere. During a patient’s routine bi-annual dental cleanings, their dental hygienist will perform a comprehensive oral cancer screening. Many times, major health problems can be caught early-on and addressed with a greater rate of success if a patient is regularly attending their six-month dental check-ups.
  • Poor dental and periodontal health can lead to serious medical problems down the road. Infection that stems from the gums can easily spread through the blood stream, contributing to the eventual development of major cardiac problems. In addition to the correlation between gum disease and heart disease, there are many other serious health problems that can arise due to periodontal disease.
  • Periodontal disease wears down the bone below the gums, leading to osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. When the jawbone deteriorates, patients run the risk of losing their teeth. Gum disease is characterized by excess bacterial presence in the mouth. Bacteria can travel easily, potentially spreading from the oral cavity to the lungs and negatively affecting the patient’s respiratory health.
  • Changes in blood flow patterns with those who are diabetic or pregnant can lead to increased risk of developing periodontal disease. These both are extremely common conditions that the majority of our population will experience at some point in their lives, and they need to be prudent about their oral hygiene so that problems don’t arise during these times. Periodontal disease can be characterized by a multitude of symptoms. A patient’s gums will typically be swollen, tender, and will bleed easily when disturbed. Bad breath can also signify the beginnings of gum disease. This condition is reversible and if addressed early enough, can be treated at a general dental office. More advanced periodontal disease needs to be treated by a specialist.