Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential to keep your teeth and gums healthy, and these two key aspects of preventive dentistry are typically combined during routine appointments every six months.
As well as oral health benefits – reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, for example – dental check-ups and cleanings help to keep the rest of you healthy. The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infection and inflammation that can be passed on to vital organs.
Besides detecting signs of cavities or gum problems, dental exams can also spot symptoms of issues in other areas of your body that may be present in your mouth.
Dental cleanings not only give you fresher breath and a brighter smile but get rid of the bacteria, plaque and tartar that can cause cavities and gum disease and spread to areas such as the brain, heart and lungs.
Despite regular dental exams and cleanings, there’s always a risk of unexpected oral trauma, and that’s when it pays to have access to emergency dental care.
What Happens During Dental Exams?
Regular check-ups can prevent minor dental issues from becoming a serious problem, avoiding costly and lengthy treatments in the future. However, your dentist will be doing much more than just looking for early signs of tooth decay.
During your dental exam, your dentist can detect symptoms of many medical conditions affecting other areas of your body, including:
- Respiratory disorders such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Sinus infections.
- Kidney malfunction.
- Liver problems.
The early stages of oral cancer may not be immediately apparent, so your dental exam will include checking for symptoms of mouth or throat cancer, including blocked salivary glands, ulcers, and discolored patches on the gums and tongue.
You may have wondered why your dentist is sniffing your breath during your dental exam. Halitosis (bad breath) can indicate several problems, including a yeast infection of your mouth.
What Does Professional Dental Cleaning Involve?
Bacteria-laden plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth even if you maintain a good oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing.
A professional teeth cleaning (oral prophylaxis) gets rid of these deposits, which could otherwise result in serious issues such as cavities and even tooth loss through gum disease. Calcified plaque – tartar, aka dental calculus – can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.
A dental procedure cleaning also includes:
- Flossing between your teeth.
- Polishing your teeth to remove stains.
Like dental exams, professional teeth cleaning also helps to safeguard you from serious medical conditions caused by the spread of infection around your body.
Keeping Your Gums Healthy
Dental cleanings help to keep your gums strong and healthy as well as your teeth. Continuing research indicates a connection between gum disease (periodontitis or periodontal disease) and other medical complaints
Researchers believe there may be a link between gum disease and potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and brain disorders, and increased risk of cancer.
Important Role of Emergency Dentists
Regular check-ups and cleanings can help you to avoid some types of dental emergency: you’ll be far less susceptible to the sudden onset of a dental health issue – such as acute toothache – requiring urgent medical attention.
However, even if you keep your teeth and gums in good condition, accidents and other unforeseen circumstances can happen. Prompt treatment in a dental crisis can avoid the risk of further damage.
An emergency dentist can take a lot of the anxiety out of a dental crisis. Emergency dental care provides crucial short-term relief from pain and other symptoms ahead of the follow-up treatment you’re likely to need.
Typical emergency dental care includes:
- Relief of severe pain.
- Stopping bleeding.
- Extraction or dressing of a damaged tooth.
- Prescription antibiotics for a severe infection like an abscess.
You might think hospital emergency rooms are the best place to get urgent dental treatment. However, while ERs are experts in dealing with general medical emergencies, they lack the equipment and specialist skills to handle dental issues. On the other hand, if you’ve hurt your neck or head as well as damaging your mouth, it’s advisable to go to ER first.
You can lessen the likelihood of experiencing a dental emergency by scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings and taking good care of your teeth and gums at home by:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day.
- Flossing daily.
- Using a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash.
If you are unfortunate enough to have a dental crisis, you’ll need to know where to go for an emergency dental exam to enable prompt treatment to avoid long-term damage that may turn out to be irreparable.