Despite significant improvement in American dental health over the past 75 years, only 50% of US adults will schedule regular dentist appointments for routine checkups and cleanings in 2023 (1).
Regular dental checkups and routine cleanings are extremely important for your dental wellness. They help spot and prevent problems before they become serious, saving you time and money in the long run. Plus, routine dental checkups help protect your teeth from cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer.
In this blog, we cover:
- What routine dental checkups are
- Why dental cleanings are a necessary part of your overall health and wellness
- What to expect during a routine dental checkup
- How often to schedule your routine cleanings
Use the links above to jump ahead, or continue scrolling to discover why scheduling regular dental checkups is essential for your best oral health and a radiant smile.
What are Routine Dental Checkups?
A routine dental checkup is a regular visit to the dentist for preventive care.
During a routine dental checkup, your dentist examines your gums and teeth for any signs of decay or damage. They may also take X-rays to look for underlying issues they can’t see with the naked eye. Your dentist also cleans your teeth and performs other preventive treatments, such as applying fluoride or sealants to prevent cavities (2, 5).
The difference between routine dental checkups and emergency dental appointments is that emergency appointments usually happen when an urgent issue needs to be addressed right away, like a toothache or broken tooth. Routine checkups are important because they allow your dentist to catch any potential problems before they become serious (4).
Why Do I Need Regular Dental Checkups?
1. Early Detection of Dental Issues
One of the primary benefits of regular dental checkups is the early detection of potential dental problems. Your dentist can identify issues such as cavities, gum disease, and other oral health concerns at their earliest stages. By catching problems early, you can avoid more extensive and costly treatments down the road.
2. Prevention of Serious Oral Health Problems
Routine dental checkups are crucial in preventing severe oral health issues. During your visit, your dentist examines your teeth, gums, and signs of oral cancer. Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not caught and treated early. Getting regular checkups helps identify and manage potential issues before they become serious problems.
3. Removal of Plaque and Tartar Buildup
Over time, plaque and tartar build on your teeth. Plaque and tartar can only be removed by a dental professional and can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if not removed properly. Regular dental cleanings during routine checkups help remove this buildup and keep your teeth and gums healthy. By removing plaque and tartar, you're less likely to experience dental issues such as cavities and gingivitis.
4. Fresh Breath and Healthy Teeth
Regular dental checkups and cleanings lead to fresh breath and healthy teeth. During cleaning, your dental hygienist removes any food particles, plaque, and bacteria causing bad breath. Your hygienist can also give tips and guidance for your at-home brushing and flossing routine. As a result, you'll enjoy cleaner teeth, fresher breath, and a more confident smile.
As you can see, routine checkups add to a lifetime of good oral health and a bright, beautiful smile.
What to Expect During Routine Dental Cleanings
Before the cleaning begins, your dental hygienist performs an oral exam. They check for signs of cavities, gum disease, and other issues. This exam helps identify any problems needing attention during or after your cleaning.
The first step in the cleaning process is scaling, which involves removing plaque and tartar buildup from the surface of your teeth. Your dental hygienist uses a special scaler tool to gently scrape away tartar and plaque, especially along the gum line and between teeth.
After scaling, your dental hygienist polishes your teeth with mildly gritty toothpaste. Polishing helps remove surface stains and smooth out any rough spots on your teeth, helping them look shiny and clean.
Next, dental hygienists floss between teeth to remove plaque and debris. Flossing also helps identify areas where you might need to improve your at-home flossing routine.
Fluoride Treatment (Optional)
Depending on your dentist's recommendation, you may receive a fluoride treatment during cleaning. Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. The treatment usually involves applying a fluoride gel or foam to your teeth for a short time.
Review of Your At-Home Brushing and Flossing
Finally, your dental hygienist may review your at-home oral health routine and provide you with recommendations for improvement. Their suggestions could include tips on brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash.
Routine dental cleanings play an important part in preventative care by helping to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. They allow dental professionals to find and fix possible issues before they become serious problems. By getting regular cleanings, you're protecting your teeth, gums, and mouth, keeping them healthy.
How Often Should You Get Routine Cleanings?
How often you get routine dental cleanings depends on your unique needs and oral health (3). Generally, dentists recommend getting a professional cleaning at least once every 6 months.
But – your brushing and flossing habits, gum health, medical conditions, lifestyle choices, and orthodontic treatment affects how often you should visit the dentist for routine cleanings. Your dentist can look at your needs and guide you to a schedule that makes sense.
Schedule Your Next Dental Checkup
Regular dental checkups and routine cleanings are important for good oral health. By booking regular dentist visits and caring for your teeth with regular brushing and flossing, you're ensuring your teeth and gums stay healthy for years to come.
Schedule your next dental cleaning with Greentree Dental today! Our experienced team is committed to providing you with the highest quality care and helping you maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. Click here to make an appointment with us today.