When patients miss a routine dental exam with us, there’s often a snowball effect. Because they didn’t come in for that exam, they didn’t make an appointment for their next exam, so they miss that one, too. Then they miss the next appointment, and the one after that––and soon it’s been a few years since they’ve last seen a dentist. Now, they start dreading the idea of making an appointment, nervous about what we will find when they do finally come in.
Does this sound familiar? If so, relax! We understand that work schedules and family obligations can make it easy to miss an appointment. We’ll never lecture you for not coming in every six months (so if you’re worried about that––don’t be!), but as dental professionals, we do have to stress how important it is to stay on top of your oral health.
Today, we’re going to keep things positive. Instead of talking about all the potential consequences of not keeping up with your routine dental exams, let’s talk about all the benefits of coming in to see us every six months.
Your Dental Visits Will Be Short and Painless
Usually when people have phobias surrounding their routine dental visits, it’s the cleaning that they’re nervous about. We get it––no one wants to be sitting in the exam chair for an hour with tools scraping away at plague and tartar. The good news is that when you keep up with your regular dental exams and cleanings, they’re a lot shorter.
Why? It’s simple. When your teeth are well-cared for, we have less to do. It’s just like how you care for your car, home, or any of your other belongings. Regular maintenance is crucial.
It Benefits Your Overall Health
Your body is an amazing thing. Each system is interconnected with the others, and this is also true of your mouth. We’re often able to spot signs of disease that originate in other parts of the body in your mouth first.
Diseases like diabetes, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis, may show up in the mouth before you have symptoms elsewhere. As dentists, we are not equipped to diagnose these conditions ourselves, but we are trained to find any abnormalities present as we conduct oral exams. If we find something suspicious, we will refer you to your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
During routine dental exams we also perform screenings for oral cancer. These screenings include examining your jaw, neck, lips, cheeks, and tongue for sores or abnormal tissue growth. Dentists play an important role in early diagnosis for oral cancers––and patients whose cancers are detected early have the best outcomes.
Another way dental visits protect your overall health is by keeping gum disease at bay. Patients with gum disease have two to three times the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular events. Scientists are still researching how the two are connected, but it’s believed that inflammation in the gums increases inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the cardiovascular system. This inflammation causes disease.
Preventive Care Is Less Expensive Than Restorative Care
Restorative dental treatments can range from quick and inexpensive fillings to costly dental implants. But no matter what type of restoration we’re looking at, even the least expensive option is going to be more expensive than a routine dental exam. Preventive care keeps your overall dental costs down.
If you have dental insurance, the cost of your biannual dental exams are likely covered; dental veneers and implants are not. Research shows a link between long-term tooth loss and the frequency of preventive dental visits, which is why it’s important not to skip your routine dental exams and cleanings.