Preventative care is the foundation of dentistry. The American Dental Association recommends visiting your dentist regularly – usually about twice yearly – for full cleanings, examinations, and consultations for potential treatment. Professional dental cleanings help remove built-up plaque that is not removable using conventional brushing and flossing. Dental professionals are often capable of detecting potential problems that patients may not be able to see or feel. With regular dental checkups, you can prevent decay and gum disease as well as to detect the onset of oral health issues before they become severe.
Are Americans less and less likely to visit the dentist as they age? Data from the Centers for Disease Control reports that only 57% of Americans over age 65 visited the dentist in 2010. That compares to about 61% of adults under age 65 and about 79% of children ages 2 to 17. Nonetheless, it is important to visit the dentist for cleanings and exams regardless of how long has passed since your most recent dental appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need to have my teeth professionally cleaned?
Yes. Even if you brush and floss after every meal and before bed, bacteria-harboring plaque can accumulate in the tiniest crevices, grooves and pits. Over time, the teeth will begin to decay in those areas, which may result in pain and partial or total tooth loss.
What should I expect at my cleaning and exam consultation?
Your cleaning and consultation will consist of teeth and gum examination. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may also require x-rays for a more comprehensive view of your teeth. Your dentist will also answer any questions you may have about your oral health. The cleaning will follow, during which a dental hygienist will use special instruments to remove hardened plaque from your teeth. Finally, you will have your teeth polished before your dentist discusses any treatment recommendations they may have for you.
What types of guidelines should I follow after my visit?
In between dental cleanings and consultations, be sure to maintain good oral habits at home. This includes daily flossing and brushing after meals. It’s also important to drink fluoridated water and use fluoridated toothpaste.