Many will wait until they experience a toothache before booking a check-up with their dentist, but it pays to set up a routine whether your teeth hurt or not. If visiting your dentist makes you anxious, it's best to discuss your fears with them to find a solution (such as sedation) because avoiding your dental examination can have severe implications for your health.
Even if you have excellent dental health, you should be scheduling six monthly check-ups to make sure they stay in tip-top condition. Seeing your local dentist regularly can make sure any potential issues can be caught in the early stages before significant (and costly) intervention is required.
Of course, if your dentist has nominated you as someone who has a high risk of gum disease or cavities – or you’re receiving active treatment for a dental issue – you’ll need to book an appointment for an examination every three months.
Leaving it any longer between visits can potentially mean your oral health deteriorates, undoing all the good work your dentist has done and wasting the money you’ve spent to date. Worse, leaving problems untreated often means more pain, potential loss of teeth or could escalate into something beyond repair.
Even if you feel your teeth are in perfect condition, you should never leave it longer than a year to see your dentist. Over this time, calculus can build up and harden into plaque, sticking to your teeth and moving inexorably below your gum line.
This can cause painful inflammation – the first signs of periodontal disease that can lead to tooth loss and affect other systems in your body. While with regular toothbrushing and flossing you can clean away a lot of this plaque, you cant’ remove all of it without a professional’s help. Booking in for a scale and polish is the only way to prevent plaque and tartar build up below the gum line.
Plaque also causes cavities. Once you feel that toothache the damage is already done – pain only appears when the tooth is already decayed. Getting a regular clean at your dentist costs a lot less the fixing and filling a cavity, so it pays to make routine appointments.
You might not have realised it, but early check-ups are vital for a reason other than to assess your oral health. Your local dentist will also examine your mouth, throat, neck and face for the telltale early signs of oral cancer.
An extremely serious and life-threatening disease that's hard to diagnose – the signs of dead tissue caused by tumours are invisible without the right tools. Oral cancer can also progress quickly. Your dentist is trained to recognise the symptoms, and a regular examination means it can be treated successfully before it worsens.
Before you skip your next dental appointment, stop and think about what you could be risking. Oral health problems can develop very quickly and, more often than not, you won't notice the symptoms. Staying on top of your trips to the dentist can save you from future pain, time and money spent in the long run.