Proper dental hygiene at home goes a long way toward keeping your mouth healthy. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day is an important part of your oral health regimen. In addition, a regular cleaning and examination at the dentist’s office is necessary to ensure the longevity of your teeth.

Early Detection

Dentists recommend that patients come in for a professional cleaning every six months. These visits usually include X-rays to check for tooth health and cavities, and a special cleaning by the hygienist to remove plaque with a polisher and metal scaler. When the cleaning is done, the dentist looks for plaque formation and cavities, and checks for signs of inflammation or other warning of potential problems. If detected early, cavities can be drilled and filled while they are small, before they abscess. Abscessed teeth often need to be pulled, and can also lead to a root canal in adults or a pulpectomy in children. Regular visits to the dentist can save you the pain of these procedures by catching problems early.

Save Your Smile

Without regular cleanings, minor tooth problems can get out of control. Besides a root canal, poor hygiene and infrequent dental check-ups can lead to the need for more complex procedures, including extractions, bridges, crowns, veneers, implants, and dentures. Dentists are also often the first ones to notice that braces or other corrective devices are necessary. Braces and retainers not only make smiles straighter and more pleasing; they also ensure that teeth line up correctly for chewing, speaking, and swallowing, all vital functions of your mouth.

Save Money

Skipping or not scheduling dentist appointments puts your teeth at risk. While there is a cost to getting regular cleanings and check-ups, waiting until a dental emergency can cost a lot more. Many dental insurance plans cover the cost of cleanings, and patients without insurance can often work with a dentist to get an affordable price. Medical procedures such as pulling teeth, drilling cavities, crowning teeth and inserting bridges can cost hundreds or even thousands of, so it makes financial sense to get a check-up and cleaning every six months and avoid the cost (and discomfort) of repairing problems that could have been detected early.

Keeping up with your dentist doesn’t have to be a challenge. Schedule the next appointment at every visit. During a move, add “find a dentist” to the to-do list, right along with “update address.” Going to the dentist regularly is one of the simplest, and most important, ways to maintain dental health.