When was the last time you visited a dentist? If it was more than a year ago, your health could be at risk.
That statement may seem exaggerated, but several investigations suggest that some diseases caused by poor oral hygiene habits could even trigger heart problems.
To prevent any disease or oral ailments, Dr. Maria Jose Chinchilla, a dentist at Drs. Dent, recommends performing oral check-ups every six months.
“A patient who has a good toothbrushing technique, who uses dental floss and who includes mouthwashes in their hygiene is a person who should have an exam every six months. But a person with bad habits may require an exam every three months,” according to Chinchilla.
Better Safe Than Sorry (and Have to Spend More Money)
The dentist from Drs. Dents points out that regular dental cleanings are fundamental to keep the mouth healthy and prevent diseases caused by poor hygiene habits.
An example is gingivitis, one of the most common diseases that Chinchilla diagnoses. This condition is gum inflammation caused by the accumulation of bacterial plaque on the teeth.
This disease, like others caused by insufficient oral hygiene, can be prevented and cured with a thorough dental cleaning. However, not detecting this condition in time can lead to the infection becoming a condition that compromises the teeth.
“Gingivitis that is not treated in time can cause the infection to worsen and damage the teeth’s support. This affects the hold of the teeth and causes problems of movement and possible loss of teeth,” explained the specialist.
Regularly visiting the dentist not only prevents diseases but also makes treatments easier, less painful and less expensive.
According to Chinchilla, a disease that’s common in teeth, such as cavities, can become complicated if not treated in time.
“Treatment of a cavity in a regular patient can be simple and requires a resin restoration. On the other hand, a cavity in a patient who comes every five years will require a more painful treatment and a porcelain restoration,” the dentist pointed out.
What does an oral check-up include?
A dental appointment goes beyond a dental and gum check-up.
Dr. Chinchilla recommends that you request that the dental professional give you a complete assessment of the mouth that includes the lips, tongue, tonsils and even the inside of the cheeks.
These types of check-ups help detect lesions that, if not treated in time, can become different kinds of cancer such as mouth, tongue or lip cancer.
“Many times, oral cancer doesn’t start out as cancer. Generally, there is a lesion beforehand that can be a tiny ulcer that, if removed in time, can be prevented from becoming a serious disease,” Chinchilla commented.
Paradigma magazine, from the Costa Rican College of Dental Surgeons, points out that “[worldwide,] 5% of cancers occur in the mouth, but unfortunately about 50% are discovered when there’s little left to do.”