No matter how diligent you are in brushing and flossing your teeth, chances are that you will still need to visit a dentist in Laurel, Maryland for a check-up every six months. This is because a sticky biofilm called plaque, which is composed of food particles, bacteria, saliva, and minerals, continuously builds up on your teeth. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar or calculus, which can only be removed through routine cleaning. Now, tartar forms in every person's mouth at different rates. If you are lucky, it will take a long time before it starts to build up. If you are not so lucky, well, it will reappear pretty soon after your last cleaning.
The bacteria in tartar and plaque can cause a wide range of dental problems, including dental caries (tooth decay) and gingivitis (gum inflammation). If left untreated, these can complicate into periodontitis or a gum infection that spreads into your teeth and bones, causing your gum recession and loss of jaw bone.
Another reason why routine dental check-ups are so important is that poor dental hygiene is linked to a myriad of health conditions. Among the major risks is cardiovascular disease. This results from the bacteria in plaque or tartar entering the bloodstream, causing plaque to develop in the blood vessels that feed the heart. This causes a condition called atherosclerosis, which increases your risk of myocardial infarctions (or heart attack) and cerebral infarctions (or stroke). In addition, the same bacteria may also travel to and infect the lungs, causing pneumonia. It is obviously cheaper and less stressful, then, to go for regular dental check-ups rather than risk getting the many diseases associated with dental problems.
The process of a routine dental check-up is fairly straightforward. Your dental hygienist will first assess your teeth for the buildup of plaque and tartar, dental caries, and other dental problems. He or she may also ask questions about your eating and dental care habits. Once your dentist has fully understood the overall condition of your teeth, he or she will then proceed to cleaning them.
The dental hygienist will scrape off tartar with scaling tools. If you have not been to the dentist for a long time, the tartar will come out in hard chunks that resemble chips of teeth. Do not be alarmed if this happens, and if you feel nerve sensitivity or pain afterwards. This is normal when the tartar has clung to your teeth for a long time. The dentist is not actually chipping off your teeth. Anyway, the discomfort that you feel is nothing compared to the huge risks of not getting your teeth cleaned. If you regularly visit the dentist, this is not likely to be a problem. In fact, most dental cleanings are painless.
If your dentist has seen anything that needs a more thorough assessment, he or she may need to take an X-ray. During this process, you will have to wear protective gear and bite into a plastic apparatus. This process will only take a couple of minutes.
Sometimes, your dental hygienist may also apply sealant to keep plaque from building up in the grooves of your teeth. He or she may also apply fluoride, a mineral which protects your teeth from dental caries.
Afterwards, your dentist may have several recommendations regarding your eating and dental care habits. Depending on your condition, your dentist will also recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments. It is important that you listen carefully, and follow these instructions the best you can as they will reduce your risk of getting dental problems in the future.
It is easy to take your teeth for granted, but giving them regular care is very important. You should not wait to get severe problems before you consult your dentist. Keeping your teeth healthy is one way of maintaining happy and bright smiles for decades to come.