What Happens To Your Teeth If You Avoid Regular Dental Checkups

There are many people who consistently avoid the dentist. Whether the motivation is fear, finances or procrastination, it’s a course of action–or non-action–that can lead to devastating consequences.

Even if you practice good dental hygiene, chances are you’ll develop tooth decay or gum disease at some point. If such issues go untreated because you’re skipping routine dental visits, you’re in danger of losing a tooth or even falling physically ill.

At Riverside Dental Care, we don’t want patients to come in only when they’re suffering from a toothache or need costly reparative treatment. We believe the best care is preventative care. Let’s further discuss the complications that can arise when you avoid regular dental checkups.

A Quick Check Prevents A Dental Wreck

When you have a checkup or professional dental cleaning, it gives your dentist or hygienist a chance to check for periodontal disease, cavities, more serious tooth infections and even oral cancer.

If you’re one of the rare people who has never suffered so much as a single cavity, congratulations. Nonetheless, your luck is likely to run out; it’s a matter of statistics rather than pessimism.  

Virtually All Americans Will Experience Cavities

Ninety-two percent of Americans aged 20 to 64 have had cavities, according to a report by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. By age 65 that number rises to 96 percent, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control.  And even more disturbing CDC stat is a quarter of American adults have untreated tooth decay.

Untreated tooth decay has some significant drawbacks, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Discomfort while eating or drinking cold, hot or sweet things
  • General tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Pain, with no apparent cause or when brushing your teeth or chewing
  • Visible holes or pits in your teeth

Over time, the bacteria that causes cavities can breach your enamel and dentin to infect the pulp of your teeth. It’s painful and if your dentist doesn’t intervene by performing a root canal, you may lose your troubled tooth.

Gum Disease Is Endemic

Periodontal disease also strikes the average person. In fact, half of Americans 30 or older have gum disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

Gingivitis is a gum inflammation spurred by a buildup of bacteria-rich plaque and tartar–a hard crust that forms on your teeth when plaque is allowed to flourish. Gingivitis symptoms include:

  • A change in your bite
  • Bad breath
  • Gums that hurt or bleed when brushing, flossing or chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Red, swollen, tender or receding gums
  • Tooth sensitivity

If gingivitis is left to progress, you can get develop periodontitis. While it includes many of the same side effects as gingivitis, periodontitis attacks your gums and teeth more aggressively.

When you have periodontitis, calcium deposits on your teeth’s enamel expand until they extend below your gums. This causes your gums to separate from your teeth and supporting bones, creating pockets around the teeth. Bacteria can make a home in these pockets, multiplying and edging further beneath your gums. As the infection worsens and periodontal pockets deepen, they erode your jawbone until your teeth loosen and, eventually, fall out.

Professional Cleaning Prevents Many Dental Issues

Your full-service dentist can fill your cavities and, in some cases, nip them in the bud via a fluoride treatment. If the situation’s caught soon enough, your dentist can also save a tooth from advanced infection by performing a root canal. Further, your dentist can reverse and discourage gum disease through several methods, starting with a professional dental cleaning.

During a cleaning, your hygienist removes plaque and tartar that’s accumulated on the surface of your tooth, above and below the gum line. If they detect plaque and tartar under you gums, they’ll undertake scaling and root planing to scrape it away and smooth your teeth.

There are also aesthetic perks. While no treatment has the stain-diminishing power of professional teeth-whitening, getting your teeth professionally polished  leaves your smile noticeably brighter.

Advanced Infection May Call For More Drastic Action

If the tissue around the teeth becomes too unhealthy, your dentist may recommend an antibiotic to kill the bacteria attacking your tooth’s attachment to the bone. In particularly advanced cases, they may opt for a procedure such as:

  • Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery
  • Bone grafts
  • Soft tissue grafts
  • Guided tissue regeneration
  • Bone surgery

If medication and surgery don’t sound appealing, you’d do well to catch dental problems early through regular checkups. You can also ward off many common teeth ailments by having plaque and tartar removed via regular cleanings. It’s recommended that you get your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year.

Are you ready to trade procrastination for preventative action? Contact us today to set up your appointment.

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