Just as an automobile needs regular oil changes and routine maintenance, your teeth need regular care. This includes not only good brushing and flossing habits but also a checkup consisting of a professional examination and dental cleaning every 6 months. A checkup can catch problems early when they’re still relatively easy and inexpensive to treat. Prevention and early detection can save a lot of time, money, and unpleasantness.
Sometimes, though, you shouldn’t wait that long. When you see signs that the brakes on your car are getting ready to go, do you wait until they fail before replacing them? We hope not! Well, there are also signs that you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
Signs That It’s Time for a Dental Checkup
If you are experiencing one or more of the following, it’s an indicator that you should schedule a checkup with your dentist.
Any toothache that persists longer than a day is cause for concern. A toothache can signify a cavity, but it can also be a symptom of tooth decay, a fracture, or a damaged filling.
Aching gums can suggest an infection in the gum tissue.
If your gums are bleeding during brushing, it could just be that you are brushing too hard, but bleeding gums are often signs of periodontal (gum) diseases such as gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, it can worsen to more serious conditions such as tooth loss. Gum disease is very common, and expert studies estimate that as many as half of all adults will experience a form of it at some point. Your dentist can determine what is causing the bleeding and what to do about it.
A loose tooth often is the result of an injury, but it can also indicate a bone disease (such as osteoporosis) that reduces bone density and can cause teeth to loosen. Have a dentist examine any loose teeth to determine the cause and help you decide what steps should be taken next.
Heat and cold sensitivity
If your teeth are causing you pain when you consume cold or hot foods and beverages, your teeth might be trying to tell you something about your oral health. There could be a cavity or fracture, tooth decay, weakened enamel, a damaged filling, or even gum disease at fault.
If your teeth are discolored from foods and beverages (coffee, tea, and tobacco can be to blame here), don’t wait until your next checkup. If it is still several months away, or if you don’t have a visit scheduled, consider scheduling an appointment for the near future. If you’re not happy with the shade of your enamel, talk to your dentist. A checkup will include a cleaning that can restore some or all of the natural color, and the dentist can also discuss options for whitening treatments.
Bad breath from that spicy lunch you had can usually be dealt with easily, but chronic bad breath is more serious and can be indicative of a dental problem. If you are experiencing ongoing bad breath (halitosis), it could be a result of dietary habits or smoking, but also can stem from dental problems like buildup of plaque and bacteria. Your dentist can help figure out what is causing chronic bad breath and how to address the problem at its source.
Any oral sore that lasts more than a week is something a dentist should examine to determine if there is an underlying oral problem at work and how to treat it.
Loose or broken implants
Implants are designed to be permanent, but they can still become loose or broken from accidents or accelerated decay. If you have a crown or implant that appears to be loose, broken, or otherwise compromised, see a dentist right away to have it fixed and to prevent further damage from occurring.
It’s been more than 6 months since your last visit
This one’s a no-brainer. If it’s been longer than 6 months since you visited the dentist, you’re overdue. or go online and schedule an appointment today!
What To Expect During Your Visit
Let’s look at these things in a little more detail.
During your first visit, you should expect the treatment to include x-rays. Your dentist can use these to look for cavities and other dental problems like bone loss and tooth decay, as well as cancerous lesions. X-rays also help with identifying the position of your teeth and their roots. How often you will need x-rays in the future is something the dentist will determine based on the current health of your teeth and gums.
The hygienist uses specialized tools to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth using either a dental pick or a waterjet tool. Plaque can cause inflammation of gums, which can lead to the onset of gum disease, and tartar is hardened plaque adhered to teeth. Flossing is included during your cleaning.
Following the cleaning, the hygienist will use a polishing paste to gently remove stains and any leftover plaque from your teeth. A fluoride treatment is also administered as part of the polishing process.
The dentist will inspect your teeth and gums for problems noted previously, as well as how the jaws and teeth line up, but there also will be an examination of the throat, tongue, head, and neck to look for any signs of oral cancer.
The hygienist and dentist will make recommendations about brushing, flossing, and other aspects of oral care based on what they see during your visit. This can include discussions about lifestyle issues such as dietary choices and tobacco use.
Your dentist will explain any issues of concern to you and go over your options. If the intervention of a specialist such as an oral surgeon is necessary, the dentist will provide a referral. In most cases, you can schedule your follow-up treatment before you leave.
Make an Appointment with Us!
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, modern dentistry goes to great lengths to provide a comfortable experience and a relaxing environment for patients while making each patient a part of the process through transparency and education.
Now that you know the importance of regular dental checkups, let’s schedule one.
At Carrie Muzny DDS and Associates, we have top-quality Woodlands-area dentists ready to help you and your family have sunny, healthy smiles. With our state-of-the-art technology, top-of-the-line procedures, and exceptional training, we offer a full range of family and cosmetic dental services, including sedation dentistry and some surgical procedures.
We would absolutely love to schedule an appointment for you, and we even offer virtual consultations. To request an appointment or a virtual consultation, you can use our convenient online form or call us at (281) 298-2205. We look forward to seeing you soon!