Most people realize that it is suggested by both dentists and health insurance companies alike that you should visit the dentist of your choice a minimum of twice yearly for a checkup and general cleaning. There are two primary reasons for this timeframe being suggested, both with the general health of the patient in mind. First and foremost, a typical patient who brushes and flosses their teeth regularly twice per day will generally keep their teeth clean enough to need a more professional cleaning every six months. During this professional cleaning, the dentist will remove plaque and tartar which has bonded to the teeth and cannot be removed by typical brushing. They will also clean the teeth below the gumlines which is typically not an option for “at-home” hygienics. The dentist will fully clean and polish the patient’s teeth to the best level that is available, then examine the teeth and mouth with a visual and physical inspection as well as with xrays in order to see inside the tissues of the mouth. These in-depth cleanings and exams keep the teeth and gums themselves in good order, and will be maintained appropriately with bi-annual visits provided the patient provides good at-home care as well.
The second reason for bi-annual visits to the dentist is the potential early diagnosis of potentially life threatening diseases like oral cancer. One of the things that is not the most obvious aspects of regular dental visits is that the manifestations of disease that affects the mouth are sometimes visually apparent to a professional who knows what signs to look for. In a case such as oral cancer, the earlier the diagnosis the better the ability to treat the disease effectively and prevent more grave issues later on. While there are actual screenings for oral cancer which are more in-depth and are completely suggested, even the regular examinations can potentially reveal the beginnings of the disease and allow for earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Oral cancer is one of the most prevalent types of the disease, many times brought on by habits like chewing tobacco or smoking. These higher risk activities should be discussed with your dentist during your exam, and will undoubtedly be warned against. Many other cases of oral cancer do not have a directly obvious cause, and would go undiagnosed if not for the visual exams that a good dentist can provide. Visit your dentist twice every year to keep yourself in good health.