According to the American Dental Association, all adults should visit their dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months. These regular visits are critical to maintaining your best oral health, and for prevention and early detection of problems that may arise. Regular checkups aren’t just about checking for cavities, though that is certainly one of the reasons for them. Many people do not realize how connected our oral health is to our overall health and wellness.

One of the most important reasons for regular checkups is to prevent gum disease from developing, or to treat it in the very early stages if it does develop. Early symptoms of gum disease can be difficult for a patient to detect, but a dentist knows what to look for. Untreated gum disease can progress rapidly, causing extensive damage to teeth, gum tissue, and bone tissue in your mouth. It also comes with a host of associated complications, including heart disease and diabetes.

Plaque and tartar can build up very quickly when oral hygiene habits become too relaxed. However, regular cleanings can remove plaque when it’s still soft and hasn’t had the opportunity to harden on the surface of the teeth. This helps to keep gum irritation at bay, and can help prevent the development of gum disease.

Bite alignment analysis is another critical aspect of regular checkups. Bite alignment can change when certain problems are present, such as tooth-grinding (or bruxism), issues with neck or jaw pain, and even sleep apnea. When alignment is off, a dentist can tell during an examination, and can get to the bottom of the issue. Once again, early detection and treatment of problems such as sleep apnea can prevent many complications from arising.

Many other health issues can be revealed during an oral examination. Our mouths can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our bodies, revealing clues about possible oral cancer, diabetes, and vitamin deficiencies. Dentists know what to look for, and can alert you early-on when something does not look right.

Of course, regular checkups are also important concerning cavities. When caught early, a cavity is a relatively small problem to resolve. A cavity that goes unnoticed and untreated for months or years, however, can spell trouble. What could have been fixed with a simple filling becomes a much more expensive, uncomfortable, and time-consuming root canal procedure.

Keeping a regular check-up routine can be difficult—we all have busy lives full of obligations. However, the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. Keeping our mouths healthy is an investment in our overall health and wellness.

To learn more, visit Dr. Richard Murdoch at https://murdochdds.com. Dr. Murdoch and his dental team care for patients in the Glendale and Centennial neighborhoods of Denver, Colorado.