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Everyone says it, “You should visit the dentist every 6 months.” You’ve heard it from your dentist, your parents, and even from your friends. Do you know why they are telling you this? Did you know seeing a dentist every 6 months is actually important to your overall health? It’s true. Seeing a dentist can help you cut down on other healthcare costs, just by scheduling an appointment every 6 months.

Let’s break it down by taking a close look at what happens during your dental appointment, because your visit is much more than just letting someone else “brush your teeth.”

One part of your dental appointment is the check-up. The check-up consists of your dentist, or dental professional, checking for cavities, or signs of tooth decay. He or she also looks at the plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky bacteria that builds and hardens into tartar, which cannot be removed with everyday brushing and flossing. This build-up can eventually lead to more serious oral health problems, such as gingivitis and gum disease. The next element of your dental check-up is a gum exam, which looks at the health of your gum tissue and determines if recession or periodontal disease is present. For the final part of the check-up, the dentist checks your tongue, throat, cheeks, face, and neck for signs of problematic swelling and cancer. This is considered the oral cancer screening and is very important in detecting early signs of potential health issues.
The other part of your dental appointment is the cleaning. Your dental cleaning starts with scaling—this is the use of special tools to scrape away heavy plaque and tartar build-up from your teeth and below the gumline. Removing this build-up, as mentioned above, cannot be done with your everyday dental routine and can cause deep-rooted oral health issues if not taken care of. After scaling, your hygienist will polish your teeth with a gritty, toothpaste-like substance called prophylaxis paste which helps remove surface stains and brightens your smile. Finally, the hygienist will finish the cleaning by flossing between your teeth to remove any remaining debris and will allow you to rinse your mouth.

It’s important to see the dentist regularly twice a year to ensure your oral health is maintained. Having a professional perform an oral health screening and scaling your teeth and gums is the best way to ensure any health problems are detected or prevented early. Just like you change the oil in your car every three to five months, so also should you take care of your oral health with regular “maintenance.”

Which brings us to the reminder: do you know how much of your insurance benefits you have used this year? Dental insurance often allows the insured two cleanings a year. Some providers have an annual benefits allowance for restorative treatment and are Preferred Providers with many private and group dental practices. Most of the time at the end of the year these benefits don’t roll over, which means if you haven’t used all of them, they are gone. Insurance is something you pay for in a premium; don’t let your benefits go to waste! Schedules fill up fast for end of the year appointments, but if you haven’t come in for your biannual cleaning and oral health exam, now is the time to do it. Call a Smiles Dental office nearest you and get the full health benefit of your insurance before it’s gone. For a full explanation of your benefits, it’s best to talk to your insurance provider.