Why is it important to visit your dentist regularly?

Regular dental check-ups save you money due to early intervention. But more importantly it saves you from pain and suffering. Like any disease of the body early intervention limits disease progression and damage.

Dental decay.

Dental decay is a process which results in a cavity in a tooth. As dentist we want to intervene before the tooth develops a cavity because the decay process can be arrested with a change in dietary lifestyle and use of some dental products.

Figure 1. This diagram shows a picture of a tooth in cross section. One half shows an abcess at the tip of the root and the other half shows the pulp inflammed due to the presence of bacteria. Courtesy of Dr Noel Garza.

Gum disease

Gum disease is often present without the person knowing it is there. Mild forms of disease manifests as slight gum bleeding. More severe forms of gum disease leads to bone loss around the teeth. Left unchecked, this condition can lead to tooth loss.

Chart showing different stages of gum disease.

Toothache

Toothache may be an early warning sign something is amiss. Ignoring pain when chewing, having something hot or cold to drink, hypersensitivity to tooth brushing or floss catching between teeth, may lead to toothache later.

Pain alerts us to a problem. The problem will become much worse if left without management. Tooth ache can be debilitating and often the tooth cannot be saved in some instances.

Management of toothache can be straightforward of complex. Tooth loss often costs more than early intervention with a simple filling. Don’t ignore pain.

Oral cancer

Cancer in the mouth is rare but for some individuals who indulge in certain lifestyle choices, their risks of oral cancer increases. This is a disease which can lead to death or significant reduction in quality of life.

Screening of the mouth regularly allows for any suspicious lesions to be biopsied for identification. Not all ulcers, lumps or inflammation is related to oral cancer. Only a pathology study of the biopsy sample can give a definitive diagnosis.

Tooth wear

Tooth wear can be a sign of a bigger problem. If left untreated the risks of tooth loss is high. There are two main causes for tooth wear:

  1. Teeth grinding: Some individuals habitually clench their teeth together when stressed or concentrating. This leads to cracks and teeth wear because of constant high pressure from tooth to tooth contact. Grinding the teeth together at night also leads to chipping and breakdown. The result of longstanding teeth grinding is shortening and cracked teeth.
  2. Erosion: This is a chemical degradation of the tooth structure from frequent exposure to acid. Teeth literally dissolve and the result is discolouration and teeth breakdown. Acid can originate from extrinsic (diet) or intrinsic (stomach acid) sources.
This photo shows teeth which have been eroded due to frequent exposure to dietary acid, in this case soft drink.

Early intervention is important to reduce the damage to teeth. In some instances, where acid reflux is the cause finding the reason for the reflux can improve your general health.

Don’t put off your regular dental check up too long. The cost to you may not be just financial.

Roland Chong

Roland has over 20 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.