Dental cleanings are probably old hat for you at this point. If you keep up with the recommended cleaning schedule, that means you’re coming in twice a year, every six months. Great job, keep it up! Dental cleanings are SO important. It’s really the only way to remove stubborn plaque build-up that can lead to more serious issues. Even if you’re the best brusher and flosser in the world, there’s just some build-up that you can’t remove at home.
We also use this opportunity to examine your gums to make sure they look healthy and happy. You’ve probably heard that gum disease can be linked to other serious health issues like heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, just to name a few. It is so important that we check your gums regularly for any warning signs so we can course correct long before it becomes a bigger issue.
The Inside Scoop on Your Dental Cleaning
You might be surprised that we check for lots of other things during your routine cleaning appointments, too. We’re doing a lot while we’re in there! Here are four of the more unexpected things we’re looking for during your bi-yearly visit:
Okay, this first one might not be very unexpected, since lots of people already know that oral cancer screenings are a regular part of a dental cleaning appointment. However, did you know about 53,000 people get oral cavity or oropharyngeal cancer and an estimated 10,860 people die from these cancers each year?
If we see you every six months, there’s a good chance we can catch any potential issues early enough to start treatment before it becomes too serious. If you have risk factors, we will show you what to watch for between appointments.
Many people don’t realize that there’s a link between oral health and diabetes. The truth is, diabetes lowers your white blood cell count, which means it’s harder for your body to fight off bacterial infections that occur in the mouth.
During your regular cleaning appointment, we’re looking for any signs of dry mouth, gum inflammation, or thrush. People with diabetes are much more likely to have these specific issues, and also heal much more slowly after oral surgery.
Anemia is similar to diabetes in that it has to do with low blood cell count, but anemia is when your body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. This means your body isn’t receiving that good oxygen-rich blood it needs to stay healthy.
During your dental cleaning, we’ll look for signs of gum disease, since this increases in anemic people. We’ll also look out for pale tissue in your mouth, since that’s a sign your red blood cell count is lower than it should be. Finally, we’ll check for glossitis, which is a fancy word for inflammation of the tongue. We’ll make sure your tongue isn’t swollen or sore.
Did you know that dentists are often the first to diagnose sleep apnea? This potentially fatal disorder is often discovered after finding signs of tooth grinding, like flattened teeth, receding gums, redness in the throat, or a sudden increase in cavities.
If we suspect that you have sleep apnea or another breathing disorder, we’ll recommend that you see someone who specializes in sleep disorders. They may want to perform a sleep study to see how serious the issue is before recommending a mouthguard or CPAP machine.
Has it been six months (or longer) since your last dental cleaning? As you can see, keeping on track with your appointments is so important. We want you to stay happy and healthy, so make sure you call us at 708-460-6699 to set up your next check-up!