As small as it is, our mouths play a vital role in our overall health and well-being. Often, when something goes wrong with your oral health, it signals other underlying medical issues that require attention and treatment. This is why it’s so important to go for regular check-ups and cleanings at your dentist. These preventive dental services can help identify potential issues before they worsen and reduce the risk of long-term problems like tooth decay, gum disease, or even cancer.
Brushing properly twice a day and flossing daily can help prevent cavities, but only if done correctly. For best results, you should brush for two minutes using short circular motions on all surfaces of your teeth, and don’t forget to clean the backs of your teeth as well. When flossing, make sure to use a technique recommended by your dental professional and avoid snapping the floss back and forth. It’s also a good idea to drink plenty of water throughout the day (preferably filtered), and avoid sugary snacks and drinks, which can promote tooth decay.
The most effective way to maintain your oral health is through a healthy diet that includes calcium-rich foods, such as dairy, yogurt, and leafy green vegetables; phosphorous-rich foods, such as meats, poultry, fish, and eggs; and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. You should also try to limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks, as they can promote the growth of bacteria that can lead to plaque and tartar. Lastly, consider using a mouthwash with fluoride for an extra cavity-prevention boost.
Aside from providing a great first impression, your smile can affect your overall wellbeing as well. Having healthy teeth and gums is associated with higher self-esteem, improved social interactions, and better quality of life. Despite this, the vast majority of Americans are not visiting their dentists regularly. This is a shame, because there are many preventive dental services that can be provided during routine check-ups and cleanings.
Visiting the dentist for a cleaning and checkup is the best way to stay on top of your oral health. Besides removing plaque and tartar, your dentist will examine your mouth for signs of other dental health problems, such as oral cancer, and provide necessary treatment.
In addition to cleaning and examining your teeth, your dental hygienist will usually recommend that you have standard bitewing X-rays, which help detect hidden decay between the teeth and show the status of your jawbone. In some cases, your dentist may recommend other preventive treatments such as topical fluoride, a sealant on permanent teeth, or a mouthguard for sports. If you haven’t seen a dentist for six months or more, it’s time to schedule your next checkup and cleaning. If you notice any warning signs, such as tooth pain, bleeding gums, or loose teeth, call your dentist right away to arrange an appointment.