It’s a peculiarity that patients are more likely to skip or cancel a dental cleaning than any other health-related appointment. With patients willing to put off oral procedures perceived as more essential, like root canals or fillings, it should come as no surprise that most individuals consider dental cleanings an afterthought.
However, your dental cleaning goes well beyond simply keeping your smile looking radiant, as the hygienist responsible for your teeth provides a number of surprising benefits and services that make tooth cleanings much more than a routine appointment. The next time you go to a dentist like Smile Makers Dental, don’t neglect to get a routine cleaning along with your checkup.
1. Preventative Medicine
During a cleaning, your dentist isn’t just there to remove plaque or check to see if you were lying about flossing. The mouth, like any other part of the body, is prone to serious health concerns which the hygienists check for throughout the cleaning.
With over 40,000 diagnosed cases a year, oral cancer is a serious condition with unfortunately little public awareness. Oral cancer is treatable if caught, but many patients are unaware of the disease’s presence until well after the condition’s development. As the condition affects the mouth, it’s during dental cleanings that earlier symptoms of the sickness are discovered.
Oral cancer isn’t the only condition your dentist will check for signs of. Other conditions include temporomandibular joint (TMJ) health, gum disease, and bacterial conditions that promote flu and other sicknesses.
2. Your Mouth and Your Body
You’ve doubtless heard the expression to never look a gift horse in the mouth. It’s a silly sounding and seemingly outdated expression, but its roots lay in a simple fact; namely, the mouth acts as a barometer for health throughout the body. Likewise, keeping your mouth clean and healthy will work towards overall bodily health.
Your gums and tongue can reveal nutritional deficiencies. For example, a pale tongue can be an indication of iron deficiency, a condition common in women. During your cleaning, your dentist can also catch early signs of diabetes, a condition that weakens the immune system and thus promotes infection in the gums.
Dental health is inextricably linked to heart health, fact clearly illustrated by the connection between mouth conditions and heart disease. A cleaning will identify signs of some illnesses, while also preventing the conditions that allow other ailments to develop.
3. Tools of the Trade
Your home brushing and flossing regimen is essential, but for complete oral health, it simply isn’t enough. Your dentist, however, has access to tools that can clear up problems before they develop, while also having the knowledge to use them properly.
It’s easy to spot cavities on the front and top surfaces of teeth, but some of the most harmful damage occurs in the spaces between and behind teeth. With a combination of x-rays and a dental mirror, your dentist will be able to examine these areas thoroughly during a cleaning to quickly identify cavities before they require more involved repair.
While dental picks, a useful cleaning tool for removing particles from in between teeth, are readily available to the public, using them on your own teeth poses risks. It’s surprisingly easy to damage tooth enamel, and a metal cleaning tool in untrained hands often leads to this. Your dentist is trained to clean teeth without compromising enamel health, thereby giving you the benefits of a thorough cleaning without the risk of avoidable damage.
Even with insurance, complex dental procedures can be costly. Root canals, caps, crowns, and other procedures are expensive, but they’re also completely avoidable with regular cleanings.
Regular dental appointments prevent small cavities from developing into larger problems that require more expensive solutions. In fact, a dental cleaning schedule combined with good personal oral hygiene practices can help keep cavities from ever forming in the first place.
With teeth cleanings being much cheaper than trying to salvage a damaged tooth, it’s not only an investment into your own health and well-being, but a painless way of saving on future medical expenses.
The Bottom Line
Vanity is often regarded as a weakness, but when it comes to teeth, it may just save your life. Regular dental cleanings are a proven way of promoting not just oral health, but overall well-being. While personal dental hygiene is important, your dentist provides valuable preventive and diagnostic services that simply can’t be achieved in front of the bathroom mirror.