A check-up allows your dentist to see if you have any dental problems and helps you keep your mouth healthy. Leaving problems untreated could make them more difficult to treat in the future, so it's best to deal with problems early, or, if possible, prevent them altogether.
How often should I have a dental checkup?
The standard recommendation is to visit your dentist twice a year for checkups and cleanings. After your check-up, your dentist will recommend when your next checkup should be based on your risk of dental problems.
The lower your risk of dental problems, the longer you can wait before your next check-up. So people with good oral health will probably need to attend only once every 12 to 24 months, but those with more problems will need check-ups more often.
What will your dentist look for on your dental check-up?
1. Gum Disease
Gum disease is the number one reason for losing teeth. Dentists call it the quiet destroyer, because it progresses slowly. By the time you notice something’s wrong- and probably feel discomfort, bleeding, tenderness and worst of all, loose teeth- it may be too late. Keeping gums healthy is also a recommendation for the prevention of heart disease.
2. Tooth Decay
Even the best fillings have a limited life. Over time they deteriorate and need replacing.
Crowns and bridges can last a lifetime. However, their joint with the tooth root can be a weak point. If there is leakage the root may decay. Stop this early or you may risk losing the tooth.
3. Bad breath
Plaque is the most common cause of this unpleasant condition. Good home hygiene combined with a professional scaled and cleaned mouth will eliminate bad breath.
4. Oral Cancer
Everyone should have their mouth checked for any signs of oral cancer.
5. Head and neck
Your dentist will check your head and neck, temporomandibular (jaw) joint, salivary glands and lymph nodes in your neck area. Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that guides your lower jaw when you open your mouth. To see if the joint is working properly, your dentist will ask you to open and close your mouth and to move your lower jaw from side to side. You will be asked if you have had any pain or soreness in the joint.
Cosmetic dentistry is no longer just for the rich and famous. Our teeth send out an obvious and visible message about us. So why not discuss the colour, shape, position and general appearance of your teeth and smile during your visit.
X-Rays may be taken if clinically indicated to help your dentist look for cavities or other oral health problems that cannot be seen during the clinical exam. X-rays also provide the best way for the dentist to see a need for root canal treatment, or bone loss that may indicate advanced gum disease.
What do you need to tell your dentist?
- Your fears — many people have fears of the dentist that go back to childhood. Pain control and treatment techniques change constantly. The things you fear most may not exist any longer, or there may be new and improved ways of dealing with them. Often, just talking about your fears will take some of the edge off.
- Your overall health — Tell your dentist if you've been diagnosed with any diseases or are taking any new medicines. It is important to tell your dentist about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicines you take. Even diseases that seem to be unrelated to the mouth may require a different approach to dental treatments or prevention.
- Your dental health — Before the examination starts, tell your dentist if:
- You think you have a new cavity
- Your teeth have become sensitive
- You feel lumps inside your mouth
By telling your dentist your symptoms, you may help him or her make an early diagnosis.
Your check-up is the best way to keep your ‘Teeth for life’.