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Dental Health Checks



By Dr. Sangita Venkatesh, D.M.D

Why should you visit a dentist regularly?

Are you one of those individuals that does not believe in visiting a dentist regularly? Do you visit a dentist only when you have tooth ache? Do you think bad breath is ok? Have you been recommended some dental treatment and you decided to not take care of them because you think it’s too expensive or unnecessary? If you answered Yes to any of these questions you are not alone. Many people in developing and under developed countries do not visit a dentist regularly for a variety of reasons including but not limited to poverty, lack of access to dental insurance, lack of access to quality dental care, misbelief etc … Some even question why it’s necessary to visit a dentist regularly for cleaning, because they brush every day and their teeth are clean. In this article I would like to shed some light on why visiting a dentist regularly is very important especially in a country like America where quality dental care is very affordable.

A person with good oral health needs to visit a dentist only every six months. Most dental insurance plans cover two dental exams and two regular cleanings per year but most people fail to take advantage of their benefits. Regular dental visits are necessary for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. Dentists are well qualified to spot potential issues that could cause pain, discomfort or expenses down the road. A good dentist will not cut corners when providing oral care. Depending on the condition of your oral health, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.
There’s a big difference between someone who has a healthy mouth and someone with gum disease. Those with gum or periodontal disease need a deep cleaning also known as scaling and root planing. And if you are one of those patients that have this disease, your dentist will not only recommend deep cleaning but will also recommend you visit the dentist every 3 or 4 months for follow up cleaning known as periodontal maintenance cleaning. Let me explain why this is very important and key to maintaining a healthy mouth.

While brushing twice a day and flossing is very important to maintaining good oral health, it alone is not enough. The reason it’s not enough is because, after every meal left over food particle and saliva mix and form a sticky substance called plaque. This is problematic because it contains bacteria and it eats away the enamel that protects the teeth and thereby causes cavities and tooth decay. If you don’t have the habit of brushing and flossing your teeth properly after every meal, this plaque keeps accumulating and over a period hardens to a point, a regular brush can’t remove them no matter how many times or how hard you brush. This hardened plaque is called tartar. The tartar is the substance that looks yellow on your teeth and causes smell and bad breath. The tartars can only be cleaned by a professional dentist or a hygienist. They do this by scraping them away with special tools. It’s very difficult and takes a lot of motivation and belief to brush and floss after every meal and as life unfolds many of us keep postponing healthcare in general and oral care particularly and this only worsens the situation.

So, you might ask what is this plaque and how it gets formed? The plaque forms due to a chemical reaction that happens between the food particles left over in our mouth, carbohydrates, bacteria and saliva. The first step of this process involves chewing down the food into carbohydrates. The carbohydrates then combine with bacteria that is normally found in our mouth to create an acid. This acid alone can break down the enamel. But they also combine with leftover food particle and saliva and form a sticky substance that is somewhat hard and is known as plaque. While you can control your diet to limit candies, sweets and other carbohydrates rich food, it’s not reasonable to avoid carbohydrates.
Hence the best thing to do is to brush and floss at least twice a day to give yourself the best chance to avoid plaques. The plaque once formed needs to be cleaned within 48 hours by proper brushing. If not they harden and is impossible to remove by a regular tooth brush no matter how hard you try. It is therefore necessary to visit your dentist so plaque and tartar are removed. If you do not visit the dentist frequently, this tartar keeps building around your gums and when left untreated, over a period they cause the gums to get infected and causes them to turn red, swell and recede. Swollen gums usually don’t cause pain and discomfort during this stage and eventually bleed during brushing. Healthy gums will not bleed during day to day activities. Factors that may contribute to gingivitis include, diabetes, smoking, aging, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection etc…

Gum disease is the mildest form of periodontitis and is reversible with professional treatment and good home care. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis as the tartar will start to build below your gum line and with periodontal disease there are more harmful, destructive bacteria present that have the potential to destroy your jaw bone and other supporting structures around the teeth. The body’s natural reaction to this is to fight the bacteria by losing bone. As you might know, the teeth are held in place by the bone. As you might also know, bone loss is irreversible and over a period it will cause the teeth to become loose and eventually tooth loss. Its therefore very critical to visit your dentist regularly so well trained eyes can provide the right treatment and care for your oral health. As I mentioned earlier, Oral health is also an indication of underlying health conditions and so your dentist may recommend follow up visits to your physician to address them.

Another factor to consider is the cost of delayed dental care. While most insurances cover healthy mouth cleaning twice a year with no out of pocket expenses, they also provide benefits with some out of pocket expenses for other dental necessities including deep cleaning, cavity fillings, crowns etc … Most dental conditions are cost effective and best treated early when they are not too serious. For e.g. cavities are best treated when they are small as they only grow if left untreated for a long period of time. As cavities do not cause any discomfort when they are small and are virtually invisible to untrained eyes, not visiting a dentist regularly will not only cause them to grow bigger but also cost more when its detected at a later stage. Sometimes delaying treatment for cavities might lead to root canal treatment or possibly even extraction of the tooth as your dentist may not be able to save the tooth if the cavity has decayed the tooth beyond restorable limits. Needless to mention, root canal treatment is more expensive compared to a filling. While the cost of extraction itself is comparable to the cost of cavity filling, depending on your age and lifestyle needs, replacing a lost tooth can be very expensive. Some of the replacement options for a lost tooth are bridge, implant or partial denture etc… depending on one’s dental necessities.

There is also a common misbelief in certain individuals that a dental visit causes one’s dental health to deteriorate as these individuals mistakenly believe dentists can damage their teeth so they may have to keep going back for treatment. The hygienists and dentists go through extensive education and training and are certified to treat dental conditions effectively without causing any damage to teeth structure. As I stated earlier, not visiting a dentist regularly can cause the dental enamel to break down as opposed to a dental cleaning by your dentist.

In summary, it’s in your best interest to visit a dentist regularly for maintaining good oral health as it provides the best possible care at the right time for your dental necessities. It also keeps the expenses down for dental care regardless of whether you have insurance or not. It also gives you a chance to keep your overall health in check. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call your dentist and make an appointment for a treatment he or she may have already recommended for you or get an assessment of your current oral health. If you do not currently have a dentist or are not satisfied with your current dentist, I will be more than happy to be your family’s dentist. I am a general dentist at Bright Smiles in Cumming, GA. I provide most dental services in house for the whole family including small children and adults.

Whether it is a simple cleaning, cavity filling, complex oral surgery like extraction including wisdom teeth, implants or braces for children and adults, I can help you with best possible oral care for your family. At Bright Smiles, you can count on honest, reliable and quality dental care. Bright Smiles is located at 907 Buford Hwy #100 Cumming, GA 30041. You can call (678) 922-8282 or visit https://www.BrightSmilesGA.com to learn about our office or make an appointment.

Source: Wisdom Bites
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