What to Do if You Haven’t Been to the Dentist in a While

The American Dental Association recommends that you get a professional dental cleaning every six months. The Center for Disease Control did a survey in 2014 that only 62% of adults aged 18-64 visited the dentist in the last year. Adults over the age of 65 were slightly better with 62.4% having gone in for a dental visit. If this is such an important part of oral health, adults need to be getting in to the dental chair on a more regular basis.

scheduling a dental appointment

Reasons for Absences

Every patient has a different excuse for not coming in for a cleaning. Some of the more common reasons we hear are:

  • No dental insurance or concern the cost is too high.
  • After recently moving, they didn’t know which dentist to visit.
  • Forget to make appointments.
  • Fear of dental work.

While each of these excuses are valid, none of them are as important as getting your teeth cleaned. For most patients, once the absence has gone on long enough, it becomes increasingly difficult to get back in to the dentist for a cleaning.

Why Cleanings Matter

Brushing and flossing the teeth is very important to keeping your teeth healthy. However, it isn’t enough on its own. Plaque is a sticky yellow substance that builds up on teeth and isn’t very easy to remove on your own. It traps bacteria against the teeth, causing cavities, sensitivity, and gum disease. Leaving it for too long can cause a lot of damage. Over time, plaque hardens into a thick, brown layer called tartar. A hygienist has the tools and training to remove both plaque and tartar from your teeth, preventing serious damage to your teeth.

The cleaning portion of your visit isn’t the only important thing to consider. Dental visits include x-rays and visual exams to check for problems, like:

  • Cavities
  • Infection
  • gum disease
  • oral cancer

Most of these problems are not a big deal when detected early, but if they go on for too long, the pain and costs involved significantly increase. Cavities turn into root canals and infection leads to decay and bone loss. Gum disease has been linked to strokes and heart disease. Oral cancer is like all other cancers in that it is less serious in the early stages. Many people think that they only need to visit when they experience pain, but most of these problems don’t cause pain at first. Coming in routinely is the best way to detect problems.

These cleanings are vital to protecting your teeth and giving you a healthy mouth. Your oral health has a direct correlation to the quality of life you have and future health problems.

Coming Back

If you haven’t come in for a dental cleaning in a while, the most important thing to do is make an appointment. We are always happy to see new patients or patients that haven’t been in for a while. Don’t expect our staff to give you a lecture on everything you have done wrong. Instead, we focus on the fact you’re taking the right steps to getting on a road of healthy mouth care.