In today’s internet-driven, DIY-crazed world, we often think we can do everything ourselves. Some things, sure.
Taking care of your teeth? Not so fast. Sure, you can brush and floss, but there’s more to oral care than that.
You might think it’s enough to clean your teeth at home, and that means you don’t have to go to the dentist, but that’s not the case. Dentists have not only medical training and are able to proactively spot issues with your oral health, but they have a variety of rotary instruments and specialized equipment that you aren’t going to be able to match at home.
The following are some of the risks of not going in for regular cleanings and dental care.
First, What Does a Cleaning Involve?
Before delving into specific risks of not going to the dentist regularly, what happens during a routine cleaning?
The dental hygienist usually begins with a scaler that removes tartar and plaque from your teeth. During this time, the surfaces of your teeth are thoroughly cleaned. Then, there’s a paste used to polish your teeth so they feel smooth. They’ll also floss between your teeth to get the cracks and surfaces that weren’t reached with polishing or scaling.
The general benefits of regular teeth cleanings include the prevention of decay and gum disease, and you’ll have a fresher, brighter smile. Routine teeth cleaning can remove stains from your teeth and things that might be lodged in tight spots contributing to bad breath.
Dentists typically recommend a cleaning twice a year at least.
If you’re a high-risk dental patient, you might need to go in for a cleaning more often.
The biggest risk that comes with not getting your teeth cleaned regularly is plaque buildup. Plaque buildup and the bacteria that reside in it can feed on the sugar in your mouth and thrive, making it heavier and thicker.
Then, the minerals in your saliva turn it into tartar.
Gum Disease and Gingivitis
Gingivitis or early-stage gum disease can be hard to detect. Your gums may feel and even look fine, but if your gingivitis is left unchecked, it can turn into a more serious periodontal disease.
For example, if it reaches an advanced stage, periodontal disease can lead to tooth and jaw bone loss.
When you visit the dentist regularly, they can make an early diagnosis of gingivitis to help avoid it becoming more severe.
Cavities occur more frequently when your mouth hasn’t been cleaned by a dentist in a long time.
Bacteria, tartar, and plaque build-up and eat away at your tooth enamel. That then causes holes in your teeth which are cavities.
Small cavities can be filled, but if a cavity gets larger, it requires more extensive dental work, including potentially a root canal.
You can lose your teeth if you don’t take care of them over the long-term. Teeth become loose when your gum bacteria starts to make enzymes that eat your bones.
As your bones are being eaten, there’s more room for bacteria to develop, and the cycle continues.
When you go to the dentist, you may not even realize it, but your dentist is looking for signs of different oral problems, including oral cancer. Oral cancer is tough to spot, especially at the early stages, but if it is caught early, it’s also very treatable.
When you’re pregnant, you experience changes in hormones which make you more prone to gum disease and infections. If you get an infection, it can spread to the baby through your bloodstream.
This can lead to low birth weight or premature birth, but if you’re pregnant and you get regular teeth cleanings, you can reduce the risk of these complications.
Oral Health Is Linked to Overall Health
Finally, we are learning more and more about the links between your oral health, and your overall health.
For example, poor oral health and hygiene have been found to be linked to health conditions like high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, as well as diabetes complications.
We’re still learning a lot about these connections, but it could be due to the fact that everything in your mouth is absorbed into your bloodstream. That means if your mouth is full of bacteria, then the rest of your body might be as well.
If you’ve been putting off your routine dental screening and cleaning, now might be a good time to rethink that and prioritize the health of your mouth and teeth.