We are so busy in our modern lives. In an era that has ushered in the age of internet we can see how getting more done in less time does not translate to more spare time – because we always have more to do! While this is a valid and relatable struggle for many of us, dentists often observe the implications of putting off regular checkups and cleanings in lieu of other important activities and we’re here to tell you that the risks of putting it off outweigh the short- term benefit.
If you are holding off your dental appointments due to fear, let us reiterate that it’s likely not worth it. The truth is, even people who have excellent diet and oral hygiene habits can face real consequences as a result of putting off their checkups. The consequences usually come in the form of needing to spend more time and money at the dentist’s office than would have been necessary with regular maintenance. Here are some concerns to consider when you decide to skip the trip.
Cavities Become Root Canals
Putting off trips to the dentist for routine maintenance can turn small problems into big ones. Preventative maintenance is offered on a recommended schedule that is designed to ensure the preventative approach to your oral health. Cavities that have started to form can be identified and addressed early in their formation to avoid their progression. Cavities that are not seen by a dentist and not visible to patients can often progress to the point that the decay involves infection of the tooth’s pulp. This involves pain, antibiotics and root canal therapy to remedy. While root canals are common and can be well tolerated with local anesthetic, a root canal effectively kills a tooth. That is, it removes the inner pulp and nerve tissue of the tooth and replaces it with a substance called gutta percha before being sealed. This allows a tooth that would otherwise require extraction to remain in the mouth. If you have the choice between a small filling and a large filling that requires a crown or root canal therapy, we think that you should pick small cavity every time.
Gingivitis and Gum Disease
Did you know that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults today? That’s right, despite all that we know about our oral health and how to manage it effectively, gum disease can creep up and develop slowly in the mouth leaving you to think that everything is going just fine – until it’s not.
Since everyone has a certain amount of naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth, it is reasonable to expect that routine cleaning should be a requirement in order to avoid the risks associated with gingivitis or periodontitis. If your gums are bleeding when you floss them, it is a sign that it should be done more – not less. This bleeding is your gum’s way of telling you that they are angry and irritated by the plaque and bacteria that has infiltrated the tissue surrounding the tooth. Left long enough, this plaque hardens into tartar and continues to assault the enamel and soft tissues until it can be professionally removed by a hygienist who is trained not to harm your enamel.
Once again, leaving plaque and tartar to proliferate in the mouth can lead to bad breath, discoloured teeth or worse… loosening of the teeth from their sockets. This condition can require surgery to treat and is quite possible for most patients to avoid with regular daily maintenance and cleaning along with periodic professional cleaning.
Dentigerous Cysts and Impactions
Did you know that modern digital X-rays are very low in radiation? So low, in fact, that having them done annually is a no-brainer. The reason for this is to certify that the condition of the tissues below the gumline are healthy, and to intervene while concerns are in their early developmental stages, if identified. Examples of these include cysts and impactions that can be asymptomatic until it’s too late.
Dentigerous cysts can form far beneath the gum line and often have no symptoms until they are large enough to have impacted the bone tissue that surrounds them. These small cysts are balloon-like and gradually expand to accommodate the fluid that accumulates within them. These cysts can erode tooth roots and bone in the adjacent teeth and jaw tissues if left untreated.
Do you know where your wisdom teeth are? Many people do not. Those of us who have had our wisdom teeth removed can rest in the knowing that they are not at risk of developing an impacted wisdom tooth, but without an X-ray there is no way to tell. Impacted wisdom teeth can present in many ways, some of which can do harm to neighbouring structures in the same way that dentigerous cysts can. Your best bet is a minimum of an annual checkup with your dentist to assess the status of the structures that impact the healthy function of all of your teeth.