How long has it been since your last dentist appointment? If you’re overdue for a dental exam, you might have developing tooth or gums problems that you’re unaware of. Learn the answers to the top five questions about dental exams to help you realize why they’re so important.
How often should I visit the dentist?
The American Dental Association recommends seeing the dentist every six to 12 months. Ongoing treatment for periodontal disease and other conditions may require dental exams and cleanings three to four times a year.
What are some signs it’s time to schedule a dental exam?
If you stray from the recommended dental exam schedule, you put yourself at risk. Don’t ignore the symptoms of tooth and gum problems! Schedule a dentist appointment right away if you notice:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Puffy, red or sensitive gums
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Symptoms of dry mouth
- Your jaw pops or is sometimes painful to open and close
- A sore in your mouth won’t heal
Should I go to the dentist even if I’m not having any symptoms?
Yes. Dental appointments help you catch problems early so you can begin treatment before potentially painful complications arise. A healthy mouth promotes a healthy body. After all, gum disease is linked to diabetes, stroke, heart disease and other seemingly unrelated health conditions. Preventative dental exams and X-rays can also save you money in the long run by avoiding the need for restorative procedures, such as fillings, root canals and tooth implants.
What happens during a dental exam?
A visit to the dentist begins with a discussion of your recent medical history, including any procedures you’ve had and medications you’re taking. You may also receive X-rays, depending on your treatment plan.
Next, an experienced dentist and hygienist conduct a thorough teeth cleaning. Even if you brush and floss every day, professional cleanings are necessary to prevent cavities and gingivitis. The cleaning process involves using a metal scaler to scrape plaque and tartar from your teeth and along the gum line. Your teeth are polished with a paste and flossed to remove any residual buildup from between your teeth.
The final step is to check for cavities, gum problems and other potential issues. If anything needs to be addressed, the staff will discuss your treatment options.
How can I keep my mouth healthy between dental exams?
To increase the chance of getting a thumbs up from your dentist at your next appointment, remember to do the following:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes.
- Floss once a day.
- Consider switching to an electric toothbrush.
- Avoid candy and sugary drinks.
- Stop smoking.
To schedule your next dental exam with a qualified Seattle dentist, please contact Zen Dental Center at 206-324-1100.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. Tens of millions of American have this dental problem, many of whom don’t even know it. Learn more about gum disease so you can seek periodontal care in Seattle if necessary.
Stages of Gum Disease
Dental professionals divide gum disease into three stages:
- Gingivitis is characterized by gum inflammation. At this early stage, you can reverse gum disease because connective tissues and bone have not yet been affected.
- Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease. Pockets begin forming between your teeth and gums where germs feed on food particles and plaque builds up. The damage to the supporting fibers and bone is irreversible, but with proper care, you can prevent further damage.
- Advanced periodontitis is the final and most severe stage of gum disease. By now, the supporting structures around the teeth have been destroyed, and the teeth begin shifting and loosening. Without aggressive treatment, some teeth may fall out while others may require extraction.
Causes of Gum Disease
These factors increase your risk of developing gum disease:
- Failing to brush and floss daily, which leads to plaque buildup at the gum line
- Never seeing the dentist (a professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar, the hard substance that plaque turns into if not removed promptly)
- Having diabetes or certain illnesses such as AIDS
- Experiencing hormonal changes
- Taking medications that decrease saliva flow
- Having a genetic predisposition
Symptoms of Gum Disease
You might have gum disease if you experience these warning signs:
- Red, swollen gums
- Receding gum line
- Lingering bad breath
- Tender gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- Painful chewing
- Pus in the pockets between your teeth and gums
Treatments for Gum Disease
Your dentist may recommend a combination of treatments to reverse or control your gum disease:
- Keep up with good daily oral hygiene to prevent plaque buildup, including brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily.
- Quit smoking.
- Schedule more frequent dental check-ups to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen.
- Have intensive cleaning procedures performed called scaling and root planing. This cleans excess tartar deposits below the gum line and restores the shape of your gums to protect the roots of your teeth.
- Schedule gum surgery involving skin and bone grafts to treat advanced periodontitis and help save your teeth.
You can treat your gum disease at Zen Dental Center, a leading provider of periodontal care in Seattle! Our expert team of tooth and gum care professionals will diagnose and expertly treat your condition for the best results possible. We also accept most forms of dental insurance, including Aetna, Delta Dental and Premera.
To speak with a friendly member of our staff about your oral health concerns, please contact us by calling 206-324-1100 today.