By Jennifer Howard, RDH, BS, MCM
Are you visiting your dentist frequently enough? We’re sure you’ve heard that you should visit your dentist’s office every 6 months, but did you know that some insurance plans cover routine cleanings every 3 to 4 months? This is because many insurance providers understand that frequent dental visits can benefit your overall oral health.
Maintaining good dental health extends far beyond just your mouth. The mouth body connection depicted here shows how respiratory and heart disease, obesity, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, reproductive, and rheumatoid arthritis are connected.
Dental health is not only about cavities. Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss? Even if you have never had a cavity before, bleeding is a sign that you have an oral health concern. Completely healthy mouths are free from pain and do not bleed. Even if your gums regularly bleed, this does not mean it is normal. Bleeding indicates you have an infection which is often caused by gingivitis or periodontitis. Untreated, gingivitis frequently turns into periodontitis. Periodontitis, better known as gum disease, can lead to tooth loss. Infection causes loss in the bone, and the bone acts as the anchor to hold teeth in place. As the bone deteriorates from infection, the tooth has nothing to hold onto, becoming loose, and falling out. Gum disease has also been shown to have a relationship to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and osteoporosis.1 A routine dental appointment every three to four months can vastly improve your dental health. The earlier your hygienist can catch any infection in your mouth, the easier it will be for you to prevent further complications.
What is biofilm? Commonly known as plaque, it is the colonizing bacteria that forms in your mouth and sticks to the surface of your teeth. The tooth is the only part of the human body that does not have a shedding mechanism, so plaque accumulates until it is removed. This allows numerous organisms to adhere to the tooth’s surface for long periods of time. Soft in texture at first, plaque begins to harden within a day and becomes calculus. It is necessary to remove calculus with proper dental tools. Oftentimes, you can feel calculus on your teeth with your tongue. Anytime your tooth’s surface is not smooth, calculus is a likely culprit. Calculus is millions of tiny bacteria releasing toxins that the body reacts to in the form of inflammation and bone loss. Although a chronic condition, calculus can be improved and maintained in a healthy state but must not be ignored if you are to remain at your best health.2
A lot more takes place during a dental exam than simply cleaning your teeth. During your visit, your dental provider may offer an oral cancer screening. The number of people diagnosed with mouth and throat cancers is growing, and an oral cancer screening is best for early detection and treatment. Like most cancer, mouth and throat cancer are most likely to be cured when detected early.3 Hence, why having a dental appointment every three to four months is so important! More frequent exams increase the odds of finding any signs of lesions or precancerous conditions inside of your mouth as soon as possible.
When many people think of a healthy smile, their first thought comes to appearance. Another keen sense—your sense of smell — is an important factor in your overall health! Many people experience dreaded “morning breath.” However, if you find that you have ongoing issues with bad breath, there may be something more involved. Often, that odor is the smell of infection in your gums or teeth.4 Visiting your dentist every three to four months can help solve or prevent these issues and make sure your breath is fresh and healthy!
Did you know that it takes less than one second to make a first impression? It’s estimated that over a third of people notice teeth as the first facial impression they see. Visiting your dentist every three to four months can help you make a great first impression! Regular hygiene appointments can remove plaque, which can become stained, so that your teeth look shiny and healthy. Are your teeth still not white enough? Ask about teeth whitening options!
When it comes to your overall oral health, a lot of issues can arise. Whether it is oral cancer, infection, cavities, teeth staining, bad breath, or biofilm, the list of things that could go wrong is well… a mouthful. The good news is that almost all these things are preventable or treatable! The most important things that you can do are brush and floss every day and maintain routine dental appointments. If you catch a problem before it grows too big you can save yourself a lot of time, effort, and money.
Jennifer Howard, RDH, BS, MCM
Jennifer Howard, RDH, BS, MCM, is the National Hygiene Mentor for Pure Dental Brands and the founder and creative inspiration for the Holy Beautiful Ministry for Women. She is an author and speaker and loves the practice of dental hygiene and the ability to help people live healthier, more successful lives. She is a 500-hour yoga instructor and recently moved to the mountains of Virginia from Texas. She has her Associates in Applied Science, her Bachelor’s in Science and Religion, and her Master’s degree in Christian Ministry and Discipleship. Jennifer recently got accepted into the Doctor of Strategic Leadership program at Liberty University, her latest continuing education pursuit. She loves to garden and hang out with her husband and their dog.