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Why Do I Have to Get a Dental Exam Twice a Year?

When you see a dental appointment coming up on your calendar, it may feel like you were just at the office. Exactly why do your teeth need to be examined twice a year, anyway? Learn a little more about all that goes on during your exam, and you'll see why those regular appointments are so crucial. You might be surprised by everything you gain from regular exams!

Why Most Patients Need a Dental Exam Every 6 Months

To prevent cavities from developing

This is the best-known reason why you schedule exams - to take care of cavities. But what many patients don't know is that catching a cavity early on, when the enamel has barely eroded, can allow you to prevent a cavity in the future. Your dentist will help you find ways to prevent the cavity from developing - typically upping your oral hygiene, and potentially introducing new hygiene products.

Cavities can become serious problems, especially if they grow unchecked. They can spread deeper in your tooth and lead the tooth root to become infected. Taking care of a cavity as early as possible is always the best course of action. It saves you uncomfortable treatment, extra time in the dental chair, and compromised tooth structure.

To avoid gum inflammation and gingivitis

As you eat and drink each day, bacteria from those meals and snacks create a sticky film on your teeth. Those bacteria produce acids that erode your enamel. Regular brushing and flossing remove plaque - if you're getting every single tooth surface while cleaning. But we're imperfect, and we don't always clean our teeth as well as we could. Plaque left behind on teeth can harden into calculus, which is more difficult to remove. This irritates the gums and contributes to gingivitis (gum inflammation). If the gingivitis worsens, it can become full-blown periodontal disease (gum disease).

At your cleaning, your hygienist uses their expertise and special tools to remove plaque and hardened calculus. This allows you to have a fresh start every time you have a cleaning, and prevent more serious problems in the future.

To screen for oral cancer

Oral cancer is more common than many people realize. There are about 53,000 new cases of oral cancer per year. While there are risk factors that contribute, including alcohol and tobacco use, HPV, sun exposure of the lips, and age, oral cancer can occur in any patient's mouth.

We'll perform an oral cancer screening at your exam to check your lips, mouth, and throat for early signs of potentially cancerous tissues. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better the treatment outcome.

To touch base about your oral hygiene

As we mentioned earlier, we all do our best with our oral hygiene, but it's tough to perfectly brush every surface every time. If there are areas you're missing during brushing and flossing, your dentist will notice those during your exam and recommend some extra TLC. We'll also recommend products and habits that are best for your mouth's unique needs.

By checking in regularly on your oral hygiene, you can make adjustments right away before cavities form in the neglected areas.

To monitor for other health concerns visible in your mouth

There's a mouth-body connection, and some systemic health problems exhibit early symptoms in your mouth. Because your dentist takes a careful look at your oral tissues twice a year, they can be the first line of defense in identifying these medical concerns.

If you have one of these conditions, you are at a higher risk for oral health concerns and can help keep your whole body healthy with twice-yearly dental exams:

Should I be on a different dental exam schedule?

While the American Dental Association recommends that most patients visit the dentist twice yearly, this doesn't apply to everyone. Some patients are fine getting just one dental exam a year, and others require more frequent exams (more than 2 per year). Your gum disease risk factors are the most common reason why you might need more exams, but other oral health components also have an impact.

Been a little while since you've been in the office? Schedule your next exam today to get back on a healthy track!


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