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The Dental Checkup: Your Prevention Connection

You take pretty good care of your teeth, brushing and flossing daily. You don’t really have any major dental issues. Is it really necessary for you to schedule dental exams unless there’s a problem?

Oral health professionals point out that there are numerous reasons to keep those checkups on your calendar, even if you take good care of your teeth.

  • Preventive checkups provide dentists with opportunities to identify and intervene early in dental diseases. This can reduce any pain and the financial costs associated with more severe forms of dental diseases. For example, periodontal diseases that go unnoticed for lack of a checkup can progress into more serious stages possibly resulting in pain, tooth loss and other problems. If caught early, periodontal disease is easier to manage and, in some cases, reverse.

  • Dental professionals can use today’s dental exams to screen for oral cancers and other health issues that can be difficult to spot on your own. More than 120 diseases can cause specific signs and symptoms in and around the mouth and jaw.1 Dental professionals performing checkups can spot symptoms that could indicate serious health problems elsewhere in the body that need attention. Checkups allow your dentist to keep up with changes to your health status. Upon learning of medical conditions you’ve developed or treatments you’re receiving, your dentist can recommend strategies to help you proactively counter the negative effects the conditions and treatments would otherwise have on your oral health.

Dental health professionals can suggest the frequency that’s most appropriate for each patient. Some people don’t need to be seen twice each year, while some need to be seen more often. Consult with your dentist to determine the number of yearly visits that is right for you.

1 Steven L. Bricker, Robert P. Langlais, and Craig S. Miller, Oral Diagnosis, Oral Medicine and Treatment Planning (Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1994).

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