To maintain your car, it is recommended to change your oil at least every 3,000 miles. Failing to do so could result in damage to your car’s engine. Oral health follows a similar concept. Failure to visit your dentist for a dental checkup at least once every six months could lead to gum disease and even tooth loss due to untreated gum tissue damage.
Whether a year has passed since your last visit or even longer, understanding the importance of dental checkups is crucial to your overall oral health, especially during orthodontic treatment. Braces create additional areas for plaque, bacteria, and acid to stick to your teeth around braces and wires. Here are the four basic reasons why dental checkups are important to your smile.
Detection of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a very important disease in which symptoms often go unnoticed. If untreated, symptoms can be life-threatening. The neck, jaw and lymph nodes are checked for signs of oral cancer and other major health issues. When you visit the dentist every 6 months, the chances of catching early signs of oral cancer greatly increase – allowing you to take action as soon as possible.
Tartar, Plaque and Cavity Treatment
Even with daily brushing and flossing, there are still some things we miss in our at-home oral care routine, especially around orthodontic brackets. Plaque becomes harder to remove when it builds up and eventually becomes tartar. Tartar can only be removed with professional tools and is intensely hard to get rid of. Cavities form when leftover tartar erodes the tooth, creating holes. The only way to fix this is to have them filled. With regular cleanings, cavities, plaque, and tartar can all be treated or avoided altogether. At Greater Houston Orthodontics, we check each patient at every visit for good oral hygiene habits, but once orthodontic treatment is completed, maintaining regular dental checkups and cleanings is important over the long term.
Tooth decay isn’t the only thing that plaque and tartar can cause. Tartar buildup can also cause infections, like gingivitis, that lead to gum recession. Bleeding gums is a sign of gingivitis. This is common during orthodontic treatment if you are not taking care to brush properly in all areas and use dental floss. Once diagnosed with gum disease, treatment can mean more visits, surgery, and possible medication for an infection. To avoid these issues and spending more time and money than necessary, make sure to schedule regular checkups throughout your lifetime.
We all have our vices. Unfortunately, some of them could be harmful to our oral health. Common habits like smoking, brushing your teeth too hard, grinding your teeth, biting your nails, chewing ice, eating sweets, drinking coffee and even red wine can all have adverse effects on your smile. Regular dental checkups can help you to be informed of any abnormalities you may not have noticed due to habits.
At Greater Houston Orthodontics in our Memorial or West University office, we specialize in the development of jaws and movement of teeth. Your general dentist can help identify oral cancer, serious oral infections, treat the buildup of plaque and tartar and other issues caused by bad habits and poor oral hygiene. Do yourself a favor and schedule your next check-up as soon as possible if it has been some time.