Dental Checkups: Importance Of Seeing Dentists for Teeth Cleanings and Examinations

Table of Contents

A dental check-up will let your dentist look into your mouth to rule out the dental problems you might face at any stage of your life.

Dental Checkups

It’s assumed that you should visit your dentist twice a year, but that’s not a strict visiting schedule by any means.

Your oral needs may differ from your friends, and you might need to see your dentist every three months. 

Let’s see what a dental visit looks like and what the key things to consider when going for a visit are. 

6 Reasons You Need To Visit Your Dentist Regularly 

If you’re thinking of skipping your dental appointment because of the cost factor or dental anxiety, you must know all the risks you’re taking in the long run.

Prevention is better than the cure, and it’s only possible through the early detection of oral problems. Here are a few reasons why you should get your mouth checked regularly by a dentist:   

1. Oral Cancer Detection

The American Cancer Society states that 58,450 new cases of oral cancers, and about 12,230 deaths have been recorded in 2024. Oral cancers are hard to catch because they manifest in various ways.

Early detection is impossible without prior knowledge and experience, and it might become a life-threatening situation for you. Regular dental visits can help you identify any abnormality in your mouth at its early stage for cure and prevention.

Your dentist is highly trained at recognizing early signs of cancer, and he, too, has equipment to conduct diagnostic tests.

A Velscope cancer exam is a non-invasive, pain-free cancer detection exam that catches invisible signs of dead tissues caused by tumors through the help of special light within a minute or two.

The exam can’t be conducted at home, and you must visit your dentist and request the exam if needed. 

2. Plaque, Tartar, and Gum Diseases

Despite brushing and flossing regularly, you may have a calcified plaque called tartar and calculus around some areas of your tooth. Removing it without professional help is difficult, so you’d need professional scaling and polishing treatment.

Missing your regular cleaning may cause gum problems, including gingivitis and periodontitis, ultimately leading to tooth loss. Regular cleaning would not cost you much, but getting gum disease treatment is difficult and costly.

3. Dental Cavities

Plaque and tartar in accessible tooth areas can cause dental cavities.

Regular dental cleanings will prevent caries. Rarely do early cavities give warning signs until a full-blown cavity warrants a root canal treatment.

Cavities

Once the tooth is damaged, it’s irreversible, and there’s no going back to your natural teeth.

4. Keeping Bad Habits In Check

Certain habits may profoundly affect your oral health and tooth alignment. These habits include ice chewing, nail biting, tongue thrusting, grinding teeth, excessive sweet intake, drinking coffee, and smoking. 

Dental checkups motivate and guide you through habit-breaking for a healthy mouth and body. This can prevent further damage or fix the existing damage before it’s too late.

5. Detecting Undetectable Problems With X-rays 

Dental x-rays are of great help. X-rays allow the dentist to view what’s happening inside the bone and beneath the surface of your tooth. Many problems like root caries and impacted molars are identified on X-rays, usually OPGs.

Cysts tumors can cause massive destruction and are primarily determined on a radiograph. Visiting the dentist regularly will help you catch anomalies earlier if they exist.

6. Head & Neck Lymph Node Check 

Lymph nodes are found around your jawline, along your neck, above your collarbone, and behind your ears.

Usually, lymph nodes are not palpable and would not cause pain upon palpation. An ongoing infection or tumor in the body will make your lymph nodes apparent.

Such a situation warrants immediate attention. Not having regular dental visits will cause you to skip your lymph nodes and thyroid palpation, which, if checked earlier, can save you from life-threatening diseases.

How many people in the US visit the dentist yearly for regular dental checkups? 

Statista says,  “Yearly dental visits are more common among children, with around 87 percent of those aged 2 to 17 years in the United States visiting a dentist in the past year.

Regular dental checkups

Among adults aged 18 to 64 years, only around 66 percent reported visiting a dentist in the past year.

Women are more likely than men to visit the dentist and adults in the United States with lower income levels are significantly less likely to visit the dentist, a reflection of the country’s high cost of dental care.” 

Four Reasons Why People Avoid Seeing A Dentist For Their Regular Checkup 

Visiting the dentist is avoided for a few reasons. In the past, visiting the dentist was not as welcoming as today. Let’s uncover the reasons why people avoid visiting dentists. 

1. Dental Fear & Anxiety

Dental anxiety is expressed by helplessness or embarrassment while visiting the dentist. This may be due to past negative dental experiences or just a simple phobia that has no history or relevance. 

To counteract this, most dental practices work well at building rapport with their patients before treating them. It covers all the concerns a patient has regarding the treatment.

Anxiety reduction protocol is usually adopted before dental treatments that include the use of sedatives. Moreover, anxious patients are treated under nitrous oxide sedation and sometimes under general anesthesia.

2. Dental Cost 

Regular treatment is considered an extra cost because preventive dentistry is underrated. Dental insurance covers the costs, but patients must spend out of pocket, which is regarded as an added burden to their monthly expenses.

You must understand that spending a little money on preventing a disease regularly will help save you from spending a lot of bucks on your dental treatments.

3. Pain

Although pain is now controlled with the administration of local anesthesia, patients still fear it the most.

anesthesia

Pain is a determinantal issue, though resolved in a dental setting, and tends to remain a concern for patients.

4. Have No Time 

Usually, people avoid visiting the dentist because they’re short on time. It is better to schedule treatment with a nearby dentist so that you don’t need to commute far away to meet your dentist.

How do you prepare for a routine dental checkup?  

Emphasis on prevention is always more important because prevention helps save you time and money and relieves the pain that you might be going through.

For a successful dental checkup, you should know the following to make the most of the money you have paid to your dentist. 

  • Know About Your Medical History: You must know your medical history before visiting your dentist. You must have the list of medications that you’re currently using. This ensures you are advised about the treatments that align with your medical needs and current conditions. Medications can directly relate to your oral health; people on anti-epileptic (phenytoin) or calcium blockers (nifedipine) can see their gingival enlargement or hyperplasia, which is the side effect of this drug.  If you have ever been hospitalized, know about it well. Do check your documents before your visit. 
  • Know About Your Last Cleaning Appointment: If you have chosen a new dental clinic for yourself, you must know when you had your last dental cleaning appointment. If you are a current patient, your dentist will know it already. If you are a new patient, this will let your dentist know your gum status very well. 
  • Brush and Floss Your Teeth Before the Visit: It’s best to clean your teeth before visiting the dentist because this will save a lot of time spent by hygienists and dentists on initial cleaning with water and probes. Identifying problems gets easier with a cleaner mouth. 
  • Determine Your Budget & Payment Method: Getting dental insurance will help you cover the dental treatment and visits costs. It’s better to review the insurance policy before the appointment to know the costs you’d have to pay out of pocket. Keep the credit card and checkbook with you, along with your insurance card, before heading to the clinic.
  • Be on Time: Being on time is highly underrated but it’s highly appreciated at a dental office. If you’re respecting your dentist’s time, he’ll respect your money.
Brush and Floss

What does a routine dental checkup look like?

Visiting the dentist will be a surprise for you if you miss reading it. Most people have no idea what’s happening inside their mouth while in the dental chair. So, today, you’ll learn everything about what a routine dental checkup looks like

Greetings: You’ll receive greetings from the receptionist as soon as you enter the dental office. Receptionists serve as the backbone of the dental office as they communicate with the patient on behalf of the dentist and will always keep you posted about your appointments. 

Meet Your Dental Hygienist or Dental Assistant: Next, you’ll meet your dental hygienist or dental appointment. Hygienists are trained professionals who do routine dental care procedures like scaling and polishing and assist dentists in other procedures. While dental assistants assist dentists with the preparation work and the procedures. 

History Taking: Before any dental procedure, a detailed dental history is taken to know all about you.

Generally, your general biography is noted along with the chief complaint, if any, and prior medical and dental history. History of past allergies, hospitalization, and habits are also recorded.

Examination of Your Oral Cavity: A mouth mirror with a dental probe examines your teeth and gums.

Dentists

A mirror will allow you to look for any hidden disease on your teeth and gums, while the probe is used to check dental pockets around the six surfaces of each tooth.

Ideally, the pocket around your tooth should only be one to three millimeters deep.

Deeper pockets signify gum disease, an ongoing tooth infection, or a tooth crack.  Your hygienist will also look for any signs of inflammation in your mouth and check for lymph nodes that might be palpable.

Dental X-rays: Dental X-rays are taken to identify hidden problems in your mouth.

This will allow your dentist to inspect your tooth roots, pockets around the roots, bone health, and caries between the teeth. An X-ray can also diagnose other anomalies like cysts, tumors, or temporomandibular joint problems.

Dental Exam: This dental exam is different from the exam conducted by your dental hygienist.

The dental hygienist will brief you about your complete history and dental findings to the dentist before he proceeds with the oral exam. 

Your dentist will look into your mouth with the mirror and relate the x-ray findings through clinical evaluation.

He will also check and palpate your bite to rule out any jaw anomaly. Once the complete assessment is done, your dentist will be able to prescribe treatment for you. 

Advice for Treatments: Once your dental examination is completed, your dentist will know about your oral and medical health and concerns.

The treatments will be tailored to your needs, varying from fillings, root canal therapies, extractions, or prosthetic treatments. Cosmetic treatments are also suggested at this stage if needed. 

Future Appointments: The final step is scheduling your appointment for the next visit or other treatments. You may also be advised to get regular dental and cleaning done on the same day if needed.

Tips for Maintaining Oral Health Between Checkups

Brushing and Flossing Techniques

Brushing twice daily and flossing once daily is mandatory to incorporate into your oral hygiene routine.

Brush Floss

Spend at least 2 minutes brushing your teeth, keeping your brush at a 45-degree angle. Make sure your brush clean every surface of your teeth. Use an 18-inch floss to clean the spaces between the teeth.

Importance of a Balanced Diet

You must adopt a balanced diet with the right balance of minerals and vitamins. Eat vitamin C foods that are good for your gums, and take foods rich in calcium and phosphorus for your strong teeth.

Don’t forget to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Fluoridated water will additionally strengthen your teeth.

Reduce the intake of sugary food as it leads to tooth decay. Instead of snacking on sweets and sugars, you must snack on raw vegetables and fruits. 

Avoiding Harmful Habits

Avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol products. Alcohol can dry your mouth, which can ultimately cause caries. Don’t chew on hard objects, and don’t take your tooth as a tool for opening bottles and packages.

Finding the Right Dentist for You

Researching Dentists in Your Area

Use search engines and Google reviews to find the best dentist near you. Look for a rating, and you may ask your friends and family circle for a referral.

Check if the dentist is a recognized person and is registered with the American Dental Association or not. Make sure that the dental office is near your home or workplace so that you don’t miss your appointment in any case.

Considering Specialized Needs

Look for your needs, whether you want to be seen by a general dentist or a specialist. Specialists include orthodontists, prosthodontists, implantologists, cosmetologists, endodontists, pediatric surgeons, endodontists, or oral maxillofacial surgeons.

Look for dentists who are up-to-date and use modern technology at their place, like digital X-rays and laser dentistry. If you’re anxious about getting treatment, you may look for a clinic that offers sedation or general anesthesia options.

Scheduling Your Appointment

Boom your initial consultation appointment to meet the dentist and the staff. This will allow you to gauge the clinic atmosphere and the sterilization protocol practiced in the setting.

You may clear your doubts at the initial visit, and you may enquire about experiences, services, emergency care options, and payment options. Some clinics do not accept insurance, so you must ask them beforehand.

Latest Articles:
Scroll to Top