Lives are busy. From school and work to relationships and families, there’s little time left to do things like go to the dentist. The fact that most people hate the mere sight of their hygienist means that dreaded six-month visit gets demoted to the bottom of the to-do list, right behind going to the DMV and redoing the kitchen.
We know going to the dentist twice a year isn’t anywhere near fun but it is incredibly important to your overall health — something that a lot of busy people like to ignore. “Dental health” is a misleading term because it makes it sound as if the health of your teeth and mouth doesn’t affect the rest of your body (which is far, far from the truth). Dental decay and infection can spread to other parts of the body, causing widespread problems. The only way to combat these potential health risks is surprisingly simple: semi-annual cleanings.
A lot of our patients don’t understand why they have to go to the dentist to get their teeth cleaned. They brush twice a day, floss regularly, and seem to take excellent care of their teeth. They don’t feel any dental discomfort so they assume everything must be fine.
Unlike many other parts of your body, your teeth cannot keep themselves healthy on their own, nor can they always tell you when they’re suffering from an infection. Regular brushing and flossing can’t always keep your teeth in their prime. Plaque build-up, which eventually becomes dangerous tartar buildup, is difficult to remove with just a toothbrush and toothpaste. Hygienists use special tools to scrape away plaque and tartar without damaging the tooth’s enamel. Brushing and flossing can help prevent plaque build-up, but once you have it, it’s very difficult to remove at home.
The examination that the dentist completes is just as important as the cleaning itself. Just because you don’t feel any dental-related pain, doesn’t mean you’re decay or infection-free. Cavities and periodontal disease (gum disease) are frequently painless but they can lead to significant problems including severe tooth decay, tooth loss, and bone loss. A quick examination could be the difference between keeping or losing one or more of your natural teeth.
If you’re going to the dentist once a year, you’re headed in the right direction! Millions of people shelve going to the dentist for decades so if you’re a “once a year” kind of person, you’re better than most. Still, we strongly recommend that you get a cleaning every six months — principally because of plaque and tartar buildup. Plaque builds up quickly on the teeth, even under a regimented dental hygiene schedule. Missing a mid-year dentist appointment means six more months of consistent and dangerous plaque buildup.
Six-month cleanings also mean more regular oral cancer screenings. The American Cancer Society estimates that 53,260 people will get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer in 2020 and 10,750 people will die of these cancers (source). There has been a steady rise in oral cancer-related deaths over the past nine years. It’s always better to be safe than sorry which is why we recommend that all of our patients get oral cancer screenings every time they come into the office.
Six-month dental appointments aren’t going to hurt your wallet. If you have dental insurance, your insurance will almost always cover two cleanings a year. A lot of our patients pay their dental insurance company to have two cleanings a year but end up not using them, effectively wasting their money since dental insurance doesn’t rollover.
If you don’t have dental insurance, ask about our annual plan which includes two cleanings for a discounted price. Call (919) 460-9665 to schedule an appointment today.