Regular Dental Exams
The American Dental Association recommends that you should visit your dentist’s office at least once every six months. This is because regular dental exams allow your dentist to become familiar with your oral health so that they can notice the first signs of possible dental issues. Additionally, some dental issues do not have immediate or recognizable symptoms, so you may not even know that something is wrong. General dentists are able to identify these unrecognizable symptoms and can correct the problem before it causes you any trouble. Although some types of restorative dental treatments can be costly, the sooner treatment is performed, the less treatment is required, meaning that the treatment will also be more affordable.
Just as your general dentist protects your teeth by regularly examining the outer structures, they will also need to examine the underlying structures. As mentioned before, not all dental issues cause immediate or recognizable symptoms. Some dental issues are also not immediately visible during an oral exam and can only be identified by examining a dental x-ray. For example, impacted wisdom teeth may not be visible during an exam, but they are immediately visible in an x-ray. There are also cases where a cavity may be between two teeth and can only be found through a dental x-ray. For these reasons, dental x-rays are regularly performed during your semi-annual dental appointment. For more information on dental x-rays, see “2 Types of Dental X-Rays”.
Professional Teeth Cleaning
The final way your general dentist protects your teeth is through professional teeth cleanings performed at your semi-annual dental appointment. Teeth cleanings are usually performed by a dental hygienist and consist of them removing plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth. Both plaque and tartar provide an ideal living environment for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, the more plaque and tartar you have, the higher the risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. By reducing the amount of plaque and tartar, your dentist is decreasing your risk of developing these two major dental issues. Once all the plaque and tartar have been removed, a fluoride polish is often applied. Fluoride works to strengthen the enamel, making it more resistant to decay. It also makes it harder for future plaque to adhere to the enamel.
Dr. John Batlle attended the UF College of Dentistry where he received his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in 1983. After graduating, he worked for the State of Florida and received his commission in the Navy Reserve Dental Corps. He was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2002 where he served as the dentist for Detainee Operations and Navy Hospital GTMO. He recently retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve after 26 years of service.