At the beginning of every new year, the calendar is thick with empty pages waiting to be filled up. It’s a natural time to take stock of the 12 months ahead – and, for many people, to think about making changes that will benefit their overall health. Some – like walking a mile every day or losing twenty pounds – may be easier said than done. But here’s a healthful New Year’s resolution that everyone can keep: Make an appointment to see your dentist – even if you don’t have a dental issue right now!
Why is a routine trip to the dentist so important? For one thing, that visit can help prevent problems before they occur. For example, the professional cleaning you’ll get at a regular appointment is the best way to remove the bacteria-rich deposits that build up on your teeth over time. No matter how well you brush and floss at home, you simply can’t remove hardened layers of tartar from your tooth surfaces – and (along with sticky plaque) these are the breeding places of bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
A professional cleaning is one great reason to see your dentist. Another is a thorough oral examination. During the exam, your dentist will check for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems inside your mouth. If a small cavity or another minor issue is found, it can often be remedied on the spot. If the problem turns out to be bigger – for example, a root canal or a cracked tooth – the sooner it is taken care of, the easier (and less costly) the treatment is likely to be. Your dentist can discuss treatment options, or recommend a specialist if needed.
What’s more, a complete oral exam isn’t limited to dental problems alone. Your exam will also include a screening for oral cancer, a potentially deadly disease that affects some 45,000 Americans each year. With early detection, the odds of beating oral cancer rise from just 50-50 to over 80 percent.
Finally, a routine visit is an opportunity to assess the current state of your oral health, and to make a plan for the future. If you (or your children) are at risk of developing tooth decay, your dentist may recommend topical fluoride treatments or dental sealants to reduce the likelihood of cavities. If you play sports, you can get a custom-made mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury. And if you have questions about how to take care of your oral health at home, there’s no better time (or person) to ask.
So when you’re making resolutions for a healthier new year, don’t forget about one item that has been called the best value in health care: a routine visit to your dentist! Call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.