According to a 2018 American Dental Association poll, only 58% of respondents reported going to their dentist at least once a year – which means that the other 42% stretch the time between visits even longer. Or even worse, only book an appointment for dental cleanings when something is wrong. The CDC reported that more than 18% of individuals aged 5-19 had untreated caries, or cavities between 2011-2014, a number that jumps to a concerning 31.6% between ages 20-44. Dentist visits are not an option when it comes to maintaining optimal oral health. Preventative dentistry is the only way to keep your mouth, gums, and teeth healthy and strong.
How Many Cleanings Do I Need A Year?
It is recommended that you visit the dentist twice a year to have a thorough cleaning, check for cavities or infections, screen for oral cancer, and more. Most insurance benefits include at least two cleanings a year. Additionally, dental issues can quickly move from minor annoyances to major issues if left for six months or more, making the bi-annual checkup your best bet for a healthy smile.During these visits, your dentist will typically:
- Take x-rays – Depending on the equipment your dentist uses, they may take x-rays digitally as you stand in a machine that circles around you, or they may have you bite down on special plates while a specialized camera takes individual photos. These x-rays will show your dentist cavities, decay, root inflammation, and other tooth problems that may not be obvious from the surface. These x-rays will typically only be taken at one of your bi-annual visits, unless a special problem warrants additional ones.
- Examine your teeth in detail – Your dentist will use special metal tools during your visit to gently examine your teeth and gums, looking for signs of plaque or decay. If you have anything concerning show up on your x-ray, this is where the dentist will look at it more in depth. Your dentist may screen you for oral cancer during this time as well.
- Perform teeth cleanings – Your dental hygienist will remove stubborn plaque and build-up along the gum line. This will be followed by applying a special paste to tooth surfaces to polish them and remove any remaining build-up.
- Discuss your dental care and plan with you. While teeth cleaning tends to be the central reason for a dental visit, it’s also a great time to discuss other dental concerns, such as sensitive teeth, specific dental pain or discomfort, whitening treatments, and more.
Additional Visits: When to Call Your Dentist
If you have a concern or dental pain between scheduled dental cleanings, don’t hesitate to make an additional emergency appointment. Teeth are incredibly strong and resilient, but if the tooth enamel becomes cracked or compromised, toothaches or infection are sure to follow. Make an emergency appointment if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Lingering, severe tooth or gum pain that lasts for for than a a few days
- Extreme and sudden sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
- The damage or loss of a dental prosthetic, like a filling or crown
- Trauma to the mouth or teeth, like a sports injury or car accident
- Visible symptoms, such as dark/black spots on teeth or white patches in the mouth
Even if it ends up being something small or trivial, it is better to get a dental professional’s opinion. Remember, your dentist is there to help you, even if it’s not on your annual scheduled appointment.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.