Regular Dental Checkups

What’s that old saying again?  Something about 24.5 grams of prevention is worth 454.6 grams of cure?  😀

A Cleaning Every Six Months is Critical

The American Dental Association recommends that you have a dental cleaning and exam every six months. What they don’t explain, however is why, and we’re going to talk about it below.

Brushing alone isn’t enough

Many people believe that because they brush and floss their teeth regularly, that they don’t need to have dental cleanings. And others think that they can skip brushing and flossing and that having their dental cleaning will “fix everything.” In fact, both assumptions are wrong.

As much as you brush and floss at home, most people will build up dental plaque and hardened plaque (calculus) that you simply cannot remove with a toothbrush. Some people have light amounts of this type of buildup, and other people have extensive buildup. Regardless of the cause, only a professional cleaning can remove this type of debris on your teeth.

I know that the oral health aisle of grocery stores can look intimidating nowadays, with so many choices.  I wrote an article awhile back to make it easier: How to Reduce or Prevent Cavities.  I also had a little fun with this article about why we don’t have good scientific evidence on flossing, but you should anyway: “If You Don’t Floss, You’ll Die,” says one Charlotte Dentist.

What if I don’t have regular dental cleanings?

To be perfectly honest, not everyone needs checkups every 6 months.  Patients with Periodontal Disease typically need to be seen every 3-4 months, so the bacterial infection doesn’t grow out of control again under the gums.  On the flip side, cavities aren’t inevitable, and some people just don’t seem to get them no matter what.  Some people don’t build up tartar on their teeth ever, while others build it crazy fast.  For most people though, if you wait too long, you’ll probably start developing cavities, gingivitis and/or early stage gum disease.  The longer they go untreated, the worse they get, and by the time you get them treated, it will take a lot more time and a lot more money to fix.   You won’t lose teeth right away, but at some point, that will start to happen.  Don’t think it can happen fast?  Check out my articles, “How Fast Can Cavities Grow?” and “Cavities Don’t Always Hurt.”

Dental Checkups are Like Oil Changes for Your Car

One of the analogies that makes sense for many people is to compare your teeth & gums to a car.  Sure, you don’t have to get your car’s oil changed every 3,000 miles (or whatever your car needs). You can probably go way past that, right, and everything seems to be just fine. For a long time, you won’t notice any problems, but they’ll slowly build-up under the surface. When they finally start making noises, or the car runs rough, maybe it blows smoke and overheats suddenly…it ain’t gonna be a cheap or fast visit to the mechanic, will it?

If you want a more humorous analysis of how and why the six month dental checkup got started, my skeptical dentist colleague, Dr. Grant Ritchey, wrote all about it on Science-Based Medicine.

Contact us today to schedule your cleaning – it’s never too late to get a fresh start with your oral home care.