Routine dental checkups are vital to good oral hygiene and are the best way to detect problems at their earliest stages. Early detection and treatment saves unnecessary discomfort, time and money.
The Academy of General Dentistry recommends checkups twice a year. Oral hygiene needs change with age and the condition of your teeth and gums. Your dentist may recommend a checkup schedule that is more or less frequent than twice a year.
Your dental checkup includes:
During a visual exam, your dentist will use an intraoral camera with sophisticated magnification and lighting to see all surface areas inside your mouth. You will be able to watch the real-time, tooth-by-tooth video exam on your chairside monitor.
Your dentist looks not only for cracked and decayed teeth, but also for growths and sores on the roof and floor of your mouth, tongue, lips, gums, and the mucous membranes that line your cheeks and gums. Then your dentist will check the lymph nodes of your head, jaw and neck for pain, tenderness and flexibility.
Healthy teeth require healthy gums. A gingival pocket exam determines the presence or risk of gum (periodontal) disease.
What to Know:
The key to healthy teeth and gums is keeping plaque and food decay from building up in your mouth. Plaque and food decay attract harmful bacteria that cause cavities, gum disease and persistent bad breath.
Your tongue attracts bacteria, too. During the normal process of eating, tiny fragments of food collect on your tongue. As these fragments decay, bacteria create a filmy white coating on the top of your tongue.
Practice the four-step routine to keep plaque and harmful bacteria from building up in your mouth.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy:
When you practice good oral hygiene, you will:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's first visit to the dentist be around age three unless any of these dental health risk factors exist:
When your child's teeth begin to erupt, wipe them daily with a moist washcloth to remove tooth plaque.
As your child grows more teeth, use a soft child's toothbrush with non-fluoride toothpaste (like Baby OraGel) until your child is able to spit out the toothpaste.
When your child is ready to use fluoridated toothpaste, use only a small pea-size amount on the toothbrush. Swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste can lead to staining of children's teeth (dental fluorosis).