Visiting your dentist every six months for a dental check is essential for optimum oral health. This is because many more people today expect to keep their ‘Teeth for Life’. Regular dental maintenance is the best way to achieve this, for the least expense and inconvenience.
People don’t want to have false teeth in their sixties or seventies. Instead they want to keep their natural teeth for far longer than their parents or grandparents ever did. We live longer and enjoy a far higher standard of dentistry. All this has helped us redefine how long our natural teeth should last. The key to this fundamental change is a regular dental maintenance plan (or six-monthly check up routine).
The six-monthly dental check up is not a quick five-minute scan with a dental probe, but much more. It is a thorough and detailed examination for tiny clues that can indicate bigger problems later, if they are not caught in time.
During your checkup appointment we evaluate the health of your gums and examine your mouth for any indications of oral cancer, diabetes or vitamin deficiencies. We pay special attention to plaque and tartar. This is because plaque and tartar can build up in a very short time if good oral hygiene is not practiced between visits. Food, beverages and tobacco can stain teeth as well. If not removed, soft plaque can harden on the teeth and irritate the gum tissue. If not treated, plaque can lead to gum disease.
Gum disease is the number one reason for losing teeth. It progresses slowly, causing inflammation and regression in the jawbone that retains and supports the teeth. Often it does its work without causing pain. By the time you notice that something’s wrong – and probably feel discomfort, bleeding, tenderness and worst of all, loose teeth – it may be too late.
If your gums have had a history of disease and are also prone to inflammation, you need to have your teeth professionally scaled and cleaned regularly – particularly if your dentist has found deep pockets down the side of any teeth. Hygiene (plaque and tartar) levels should be monitored, corrected and improved at those sessions. Although six months is a reasonable interval between cleaning, you may need to have this done more frequently.
The more dental restoration that’s been carried out on a tooth, the more attention it will need over time. Heavily restored (filled) dentitions, particularly if some teeth have had root canal treatment, will need more frequent examination and x-rays than those that are untouched.
Even the best fillings have a limited life. Eventually, they deteriorate and need replacing. Crowns and bridges can last a lifetime because they are made of strong and durable materials. However, their joint with the tooth root underneath can be a weak point. If there is a leakage, the root underneath may decay. Catch this early or you risk losing the tooth.
The bite should be checked to make sure that the teeth are not only in harmony with each other, but also with the chewing muscles and the jaw joints. An unbalanced bite can cause discomfort, as well as damage the joints and even eventually cause arthritic changes.
Plaque is the commonest cause of this unpleasant condition. People are rarely aware that they suffer from this. Good home hygiene, combined with a professionally scaled and cleaned mouth, will eliminate bad breath.
Everyone should have their oral cavity checked for any signs of oral cancer or other soft tissue lesions in the mouth. Those particularly at risk, such as males over forty who smoke and drink significantly, should have a specific screening test carried out.
Modern techniques and materials have made cosmetic dentistry available to all and today it is becoming a normal part of regular, mainstream dentistry. Our teeth send an obvious and visible message about our economic, social health and wellbeing. You can discuss the colour, shape, position and general appearance of your teeth during your regular dental review.