The value of regular dental check-ups

Proactive or reactive?

The key question is whether you’re proactive or reactive when it comes to caring for your teeth. Do you seek regular maintenance care to control dental decay or do you ‘hope for the best’ until a problem becomes impossible to ignore?

What’s true for almost everyone on this planet (except the really lucky ones) is that, at some points in their lives, people will need dental care. The mouth is resistant to many bacteria that constantly invade it but teeth have their weak spots and eventually they will be exposed to decay.

Better have treatment earlier than later
The whole idea of Preventative Dentistry is to catch problems as early as possible, since ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure‘. But for this to happen, two conditions must be satisfied: a) the dental practice must invite its patients for a check-up every six months, and b) the patients must keep those routine appointments.

A typical routine check-up
This generally takes about 20-30 minutes. Using a probe, the dentist will check all sides of every tooth, looking for tiny points of decay. If everything is fine, all you pay is the minimum check-up fee. If there’s any suspicion, an x-ray of the tooth will be taken. Depending on the situation, you’ll be advised what’s needed to fix the problem.

The importance of time
A dental check-up every six months puts your mind at rest that nothing will be allowed to get out of control. Even if you’ve had a lot of dental restoration up till now, you can ensure that in future everything will be much easier for you. Note the three areas of dental disease and destruction, all of which are preventable:

Dental decay – If you’ve had any fillings or crowns in your teeth, you’ll need to check regularly that they’re not hiding any areas of decay. The areaunder them is often where more serious problems begin.

Gum disease – The biggest cause of early tooth loss (and ‘any tooth loss’ is early!) is related to the gums. Your dentist will show you the essentials of good oral care at home. In addition, a regular scaling of your teeth – removing all the bacteria building-up around the gums – will make a massive difference to preventing the loss of supporting bone and help to maintain clean, healthy and fresh smelling teeth!

Tooth wear (grinding/bruxing) – As we live our present overstressed lives we tend to grind down our teeth. There are four teeth called ‘canines’ (two at the top and two at the bottom) that protect all the other teeth. If we restore these teeth by lengthening them slightly, we can prevent excess wear on all the others.

Your dentist should also check the soft tissues in your mouth to determine that there’s no evidence of mouth cancer.

Getting a regular dental check-up every six months is simply common sense. It’s your insurance that your dental costs can be kept as low as possible. Better to spend a few hundred pounds a year to keep your teeth in top shape than to be forced to spend thousands later on to restore them.