29 May The Risks of Avoiding Regular Dental Checkups
We often know the answer to a question before asking but are hoping for a different response that aligns with what we want versus what we know is best. For example, we know it is recommended to have our teeth cleaned every six months, but will turn to Google search to find just one website that says we can wait for one year or longer. The health consequences of avoiding regular dental care are long-term and not only affects your mouth but your overall health.
From food particles to airborne bacteria, our mouths are a gathering hub for bacteria. There are over 700 distinct species of bacteria living in our mouths with 100-200 species present at any point in time. Individuals that practice good oral hygiene have 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria living on each tooth surface, while less clean mouths can have between 100 million and 1 billion bacteria on each tooth. While we may be diligent in brushing and flossing regularly, we are also eating, drinking, talking, kissing, smoking, and yawning, activities that expose our mouths to a host of germs every second of the day.
From cavities to more serious systemic diseases, here is what may be happening to your overall health in the absence of daily dental care and regular checkups.
Everyone has plaque. It is caused by the bacteria which naturally lives in our mouth and creates a sticky film that builds on our teeth. Left unattended plaque can turn to tartar which further harbors more bacteria, causing dental decay and gum disease. Enjoy your favorite foods and beverages but follow the ADA Daily 4: Brush, Floss, Rinse, and Chew. Brush your teeth twice per day for two minutes to remove plaque-causing bacteria. Floss once daily to remove particles lodged between teeth. Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months and after illness including a cold. Choose a soft-bristle brush that fits your mouth comfortably. Forgo the less expensive generics, choosing a brush that has been approved by the American Dental Association. Products with the ADA seal on the packaging have been evaluated to meet specific quality and performance criteria.
When dental care habits decrease, the incidence of periodontal disease and other mouth disorders increase. On the surface, our mouth may look healthy, but plaque build-up can also develop below the gum line. Nerves, roots, gum tissue, and bone are silently affected by plaque. Bleeding or swollen gums, toothaches, gum recession, and the breakdown of bone can occur. Corrections may include root canals, crowns, bridges, or dental implants when a tooth is lost or removed.
Left untreated, gum disease may progress to periodontal disease, a systemic disease that travels through the bloodstream and has been linked to other health issues including cardiovascular disease, respiratory infection, diabetes, and oral cancer.
During a 6-month cleaning, a dental hygienist will gently remove plaque build-up on teeth and around the gum. X-rays enable your dentist to look at gums, roots, and bones to ensure your whole mouth is healthy, above and below-the-surface.
Oral cancer is not a rare disease and is on the rise. In 2018 over 46,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer. This disease can affect any area of the oral cavity including mouth, throat, lips, and tongue. Both male and female ages 17 years and older are at risk for oral cancer. Oral cancer is not visible to the naked eye, nor can it be seen under traditional white lights, even by an oral pathologist. Difficulty in detection is one reason why 70% of oral cancer cases are diagnosed in Stage 3 and 4.
The good news is the recent development of an optically-based fluorescence technology that enables dentists to screen for pre-cancer and cancer abnormalities in the mouth. The non-invasive procedure lasts 2-minutes and is conducted using a small handheld device similar in shape to a flashlight. As a member of the ID for Life™ program and OralID™, Imperial Dental Center can screen for oral cancer in its earliest stages.
The Choice is Yours
The internet may house articles that tell you what you want to hear but it cannot care for your teeth, see below your gums, or detect the presence of more serious health issues. When you consider the long-term health effects of poor dental care, heading to the dentist every 6-months is an easy decision to make. Take charge of your health and schedule an appointment today.
Dr. Dragana Angelov
Imperial Dental Center
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