Preventive checkups and cleanings

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Updated: 1/14/2003 2:29 pm
Visiting your dentist on a regular basis is essential to your oral health and the prevention of tooth loss. Everyone's dental needs are unique, however preventive checkups and professional cleanings should occur at least once every six months. During your checkup your dentist will look for signs of decay such as white spots, tooth discolorations, and cavities. In addition, you may be asked if you're experiencing any sensitivity to hot or cold, tooth pain, or sensitive and bleeding gums. All are signs of tooth decay and the sooner your dentist is aware of them, the shorter and more effective your treatment. Should you notice any of these symptoms in between dental visits, contact your dentist immediately. Your dentist may also suggest an X-ray to determine if you have any hidden conditions that could affect your dental or general health. The dentist or hygienist will check your gums for inflammation, tooth mobility, and pockets of plaque or pus, and they will also examine your mouth for indications of cancer, diabetes, joint disorders, and vitamin deficiencies. Their professional cleaning will help remove the plaque buildup that you can't reach or remove by brushing and flossing at home. In addition, your hygienist will use a high-powered polisher and a special paste that removes plaque and stains, making it more difficult for plaque and debris to accumulate. Since checkups and professional cleanings are vital to your oral and general health, delaying either could result in tooth decay, tooth loss, or expensive, lengthy treatment.

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