We know you’re busy. And with the holidays rapidly approaching, the last thing you want to do is add another event to your packed schedule. But when it comes to dental cleanings and exams, there are important reasons to make some room on your calendar. General dentistry can keep your smile looking bright and healthy. And it can help to diagnose or even prevent serious, life-threatening health conditions.
At Lakewood Dental Group in Dallas, TX, Drs. Shaun Sigurdson and Mihil Patel offer gentle, thorough dental cleanings and exams. In addition to removing oral bacteria, plaque, and tartar, they can offer you tips for improved hygiene at home.
Still not convinced that regular dental appointments are necessary? Keep reading to learn how exams and cleanings can save your smile and maybe even your life. Then contact us to book an appointment.
Reason #1: Cleanings Can Prevent Tooth Decay
Oral bacteria are the culprits responsible for cavities. Small but mighty, they feed off of sugars and starches in foods, eventually creating sticky plaque. Over time, plaque hardens into tartar. Both plaque and tartar can harbor oral bacteria, keeping them in contact with your teeth.
Meanwhile, acids in food and in plaque erode tooth enamel. Tiny holes form in the underlying dentin. And since dentin is more porous than enamel, bacteria will continue their destructive march. Eventually, they can reach the soft pulp, blood vessels, and nerves in the center of teeth.
Unfortunately, cavities are extremely common. About 90% of adults over age 20 have had at least one cavity in their lives. And about a quarter of all adults currently have untreated tooth decay.
Despite their prevalence, cavities are usually preventable. Brushing and flossing will go a long way to remove oral bacteria. But even the best home care cannot remove plaque and tartar. When you receive dental cleanings and exams regularly, your dentist can eliminate these substances before cavities even start.
Reason #2: Dental Cleanings and Exams Can Prevent Gum Disease
The same nasty microbes responsible for cavities can also lead to gum disease. Plaque and tartar carry bacteria beneath the gum line. There, they cause inflammation and bleeding. They also form pockets. As these pockets grow larger, the gums will start to recede, pulling away from the dental roots and ending up in tooth loss.
Like tooth decay, gum disease is all too common. The condition affects almost half of all adults aged 30 and above. A whopping 70.1% of seniors suffer from the disease!
Regular dental care can also help to ward off gum disease by eliminating plaque and tartar. Plus, Dr. Sigurdson or Dr. Patel can look for the very earliest symptoms of gum disease. Since the condition is treatable in the initial stages, timely action can prevent tooth loss and save your smile.
Reason #3: Regular Dental Visits May Protect Your Heart
As if a healthy smile weren’t enough reason to schedule dental cleanings and exams, routine visits to the dentist may also benefit your cardiovascular health. Research shows that patients with gum disease are two to three times more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
Some scientists speculate that bacteria can travel from the mouth through the bloodstream to the heart. Others believe that the chronic inflammation of gum disease strains the immune system and the heart. And still others believe that there is no causal relationship between gum and heart disease. Nonetheless, no one doubts that there is a link between the two conditions.
Reason #4: Dental Appointments Include Life-Saving Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer can cause sores, inflammation, bad breath, loose teeth, hoarseness, and unexplained sore throat, among other symptoms. While the condition is most likely to affect older patients with a history of tobacco use, it can also occur in younger individuals who have never smoked.
Oral cancer becomes more deadly the longer it goes undiagnosed. If patients are diagnosed while the disease is still localized, the 5-year survival rate is 85%. Sadly, if the cancer spreads to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate plummets to just 40%.
That is why routine oral cancer screenings are so essential. Drs. Sigurdson and Patel include them in all dental cleanings and exams. After checking for any symptoms, they can order a biopsy, if needed, to investigate any sores or suspicious areas. Their thorough inspections could save your life.
Reason #5: Routine Oral Care Can Help with Diabetes Management
Diabetes weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. If you have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, your dentist may recommend more frequent appointments to help diagnose and treat gum disease.
But routine dental care may also help you to keep your blood sugar under control. Gum disease causes chronic inflammation, which can lead to elevated blood sugar readings. Plus, even if you don’t have diabetes, untreated gum disease can increase your risk for this serious condition. Thus, while routine exams and cleanings are important for everyone, they are essential if you have diabetes or if you are in a high risk group for diabetes.
Reason #6: Dental Visits Make for a Healthy Pregnancy
Some women mistakenly think that they should avoid dental care when they are expecting. But the truth is that preventive dentistry becomes even more important during this time. Pregnancy can increase your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. In turn, periodontitis can pose risks for your unborn baby, increasing the likelihood of premature delivery and/or low birth weight.
If you are pregnant, be sure to let your dentist know. While it is best to skip non-essential treatments during this time, exams and cleanings are necessary. Your dentist may even recommend extra preventive treatment until your baby is born!
Schedule Your Dental Cleanings and Exams
Regular dental care can have untold benefits for your health and quality of life. Make time for you and what really matters this holiday season.
Contact Lakewood Dental Group to schedule your appointment. You can complete our online appointment request form or call us at 214-827-1885.