The Importance of Annual Dental Exams
by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 10/7/2021
Even if you’re not experiencing any immediate issues or discomfort, regular dental checkups are recommended every six months. Learn more about the importance of keeping your annual appointments and role they play in your overall health and wellness.
How Often Should I Go to the Dentist?
There is no one-size-fits-all plan for oral health, but the general recommendation is that you schedule a visit to the dentist every six months. This provides an opportunity to monitor any changes and take preventative measures to help address issues before they become more serious. Maintaining this regular schedule can save a lot of headaches and expense in the long run.
In some cases, visits to the dentist might be required more frequently. If you are pregnant, smoke cigarettes, or are undergoing chemotherapy as part of cancer treatment, you are considered at a higher risk for dental issues. It’s recommended you increase your visits to the dentist beyond the typical six-month checkups. Your dentist can work with you to determine a schedule that’s ideal for your specific situation.
Benefits of Regular Dental Checkups
Routine dental visits give your dentist the opportunity to perform a full dental examination of your teeth, gums, and mouth to check for signs of disease or diagnose other problems. In addition to this comprehensive picture of your oral health, regular checkups provide numerous benefits.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly are essential to dental health. However, no matter how careful you are, plaque and tartar are going to build up over time. By visiting the dentist regularly you can achieve a more thorough cleaning, removing plaque and tartar from your gum line to help prevent gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and other problems.
One of the biggest benefits of routine dental checkups is the ability to identify and treat issues before they become problematic. While you might not notice any impact from the beginnings of a cavity, your dentist can identify the problem area and offer solutions that will keep it from getting worse. Additionally, other preventative measures such as fluoride treatments will help protect your enamel and keep your teeth strong.
Address Common Issues
If you struggle with bad breath or aren’t confident in your smile, your dentist can help you address these common issues effectively. They can recommend simple treatments that cover everything from teeth whitening to Invisalign for straighter teeth. With a couple simple visits each year you can remove these stresses from your everyday life and correct them for the foreseeable future.
Save Time and Money
Many avoid the dentist because they fear the news they might receive. No one wants to get a root canal, and by visiting the dentist regularly you can help ward off this sort of time-consuming, expensive procedure. Not only will you have a better picture of what’s happening inside your mouth, you can also avoid the anxiety that comes with wondering what might be wrong.
Better Overall Health
Your oral health goes well beyond just your teeth and gums. What’s happening in your mouth can have wide-ranging impacts on your overall health. For example, if you’re experiencing symptoms like headaches, sore jaw and neck, and sleeplessness, this may be caused by grinding your teeth in your sleep. Your dentist can provide a mouth guard that will alleviate these issues and help you feel better day to day. Additionally, poor oral health has been linked to serious issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
What Does an Annual Dental Exam Include?
If it’s been awhile since your last visit to the dentist, it helps to know what you can expect at your appointment. Here’s what a typical exam consists of:
- Review of medical history. Prior to your exam you’ll be asked to answer some questions about your medical history. This helps the dentist understand any possible causes of issues and be aware of any potential interactions or allergies from medications. Your dentist wants you to be as comfortable as possible, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you have anxiety or fear about your appointment.
- Dental X-rays. While not necessary at every appointment, your dentist will want to take regular X-rays of your teeth to understand what’s going on above and below the surface. This can help to identify and address issues that may not be visible to the naked eye.
- Hygienist cleaning. The cleaning portion of your exam is typically handled by a skilled hygienist. They will remove built-up plaque and tartar from your teeth and gum line, floss between each tooth, and polish your teeth with a lightly abrasive paste. They will also check the space between your teeth and gums known as periodontal pockets for any signs of gum disease.
- Dentist exam. After your cleaning the dentist will review any findings from the hygienist and inspect your mouth and teeth for potential issues. This includes everything from teeth grinding to the start of cavities. Once they have completed the exam, your dentist will provide recommendations for treatment and continued health. In all, the whole process only takes 30-45 minutes in most cases.
Schedule Your Annual Dental Exam
The caring dentists at Kimball & Beecher want to make sure your regular dental exams are a comfortable, positive experience. Whether you see us every six months or haven’t been to the dentist in years, we’re here to understand your concerns and be a trusted resource in maintaining your overall oral health. With six offices across Iowa, there’s a dentist near you ready to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.