Going through regular dental check-ups is probably the best thing you can do for your teeth. Not only is it quick and painless, it also makes economic sense – each dollar spent on preventive dental care can save up to $50 on treatment. Nevertheless, the awareness about its importance is low – many people don’t know the difference between a dental cleaning and a dental exam. To help you figure it out, here’s everything you need to know about both procedures.
A dental oral exam, sometimes called a dental check up, is a routine screening procedure during which the dentist will examine your teeth to identify problems with your dental health. While it is usually associated with things like cavities and loose fillings, a complete dental exam can also help detect abnormalities such as oral cancer. Depending on the state of your health, the procedure may include:
Note that such comprehensive diagnostics are only necessary when you come with a specific problem. In most cases, the dentist will look in your mouth and maybe use some instruments to check the alignment of your teeth and ask some questions about your health.
During a dental cleaning, the dentist will remove from your teeth any deposits that cannot be dealt with by regular brushing, such as plaque and tartar. This procedure will likely consist of several steps:
After cleaning, you may also get some advice from your dentist Albuquerque about better flossing and brushing techniques to reduce plaque buildup in the future.
As with most health-related topics, people tend to ignore prophylactic measures and only visit their doctor when they feel pain or have other serious conditions. To make matters worse, dentistry is strongly associated with painful and invasive procedures. In reality, regular screenings will actually help you avoid the unpleasant experience by addressing issues early. Besides, regular exams rarely take more than fifteen minutes and are completely painless, so there is no real reason to avoid them.
Similarly to screening, cleaning is an important element of oral hygiene that, when performed on a regular basis, prevents serious problems in the future. Even if you diligently go through your daily brushing and flossing, you may still miss a spot here and there. Eventually, the dirt and bacteria that accumulate there will harden into tartar, making it nearly impossible to remove with a brush. This buildup can cause all sorts of problems:
In this light, deep cleaning dentistry is a quick and painless way to avoid health problems. As an added bonus, your smile will look nicer, so there’s no real reason to avoid it.
Compared to other dental procedures, an exam is on a short side of the spectrum. Unless this is your first visit, a routine check-up will probably take no more than 15 minutes, maybe slightly longer for kids dental check up. However, when you arrange an appointment, the usual scheduling time is around 45 minutes. This is because some dentists prefer to perform a dental exam and cleaning in one go as a sort of the prophylactic bundle. The visit can also take longer if the dentist needs to take an x-ray or simply to provide comfort for a patient with dental anxiety.
Searching for an answer online will probably lead you to a general recommendation to “see your dentist for an exam every six months,” which supposedly comes from the American Dental Association. Interestingly, a press release from the ADA suggests that there is no date that would work for everyone. People with higher risk would need a tighter appointment schedule to catch the problems on time, while those with no history of dental issues can wait up to two years. The best way to know when you should have a check-up is to follow the recommendation of your dentist, so don’t forget to ask about it during your next visit.
According to the annual fee survey, the average cost of a comprehensive exam can be between $90 and $140 in different regions of the U.S., which also covers cleaning. Keep in mind, however, that the cost can be different when you need additional diagnostic procedures (e.g., an x-ray), or when excessive plaque buildup requires deep cleaning. Of course, location is another major factor, so expect teeth cleaning Albuquerque to be far more affordable than in San Francisco, for example.
A dental check-up may feel like something you can worry about later, especially if you have a bad case of dental anxiety. Don’t be mistaken, though – the consequences of missing a recommended appointment can be severe, even when it feels there’s nothing wrong with your teeth. Regular exams and cleaning, on the other hand, will not only prevent serious issues with oral health but can actually save you time and money and make the appointment more enjoyable. So the next time you receive a recommendation from your dentist, don’t ignore it.