As a typical rule, most, if not all dentists will advise you to have a check-up every 6 months. There are some cases where people may need to visit a dentist or hygienist regularly – such as genetic factors, pour mouth hygiene, if you smoke or vape or have any other notable problems.
While a check-up every 6 months doesn’t sound too difficult and the cost isn’t too terrifying, many people skip the visit to the dentist’s chair. A busy work life and even a fear of the dentist are commons reasons for people to delay their visit a little longer.
Some people are lucky enough to avoid regular check-ups due to their good teeth (this could be down to genetics or they may have had previous work done). However, the majority of people need these check-ups to ensure their oral health is ticking along nicely, this is especially important if you smoke. If they’re avoided, serious issues could be lying dormant and your next check-up might cost you thousands instead of the average £50-£80 (respectively).
What if My Mouth Feels Fine?
Dentists don’t just check for the obvious physical signs during a check-up. They will also check for mouth cancer and other potential signs that may indicate future problems and help save a patient’s life.
So, what happens if you don’t visit the dentist regularly?
Waiting 6 Months
This is when your check-up should take place. Patients are unaware that they have begun to develop small cavities in their teeth. These holes are primarily caused by tooth decay which, if left untreated, can worsen as time passes. Cavities that do not receive the appropriate treatment can cause tooth loss.
Not only do these regular check-ups monitor your general oral hygiene, but they are able to spot early signs of disease, such as cancer. It is also vitally important for patients who smoke and drink regularly to visit their dentist to check for such cancerous signs.
One of the most common signs of such cancer is an ulcer which develops within the mouth and fails to heal or go away within 2 weeks. If this is caught early, survival rates are good but if it is left untreated, the rates will decline rapidly.
These 6-month check-ups can save you a small fortune if you keep up with regular visits.
If you haven’t visited a dentist in almost a year, your chances of gum disease will have risen. The symptoms of the disease include painful and bleeding gums and without further treatment, can lead to tooth loss.
What’s worse, people who have realised that their gums are now more sensitive are reluctant to brush properly because of the pain cased by brushing. This means the problem only gets worse.
Once two years have passed without a check-up, it’s increasingly likely that a patient will now have some form of toothache, or underlying problems that might been invasive and expensive treatment is necessary.
For example, leaving a cavity that would have been relatively easy and cheap to fix, may now require a root canal. This is a procedure that not only requires multiple visits but is usually rather painful. Additionally, gum recession may also become more likely and other work that you may have had done previously (implants, veneers, bridges, crowns etc) can start to fail.
By this point, a patient’s oral health could be facing serious issues and if left for any longer, could result in extensive restorative work.
Without any dental intervention for 5 years, your oral health problems could now have become severe. There are some cases where patients have been diagnosed with cysts that require major surgery to remove them. Cysts are difficult to spot at they form at the tip of the roots of dead teeth. They can also form around the crowns and roots of buried teeth, which again, makes them difficult to spot.
At this stage, easy tooth care has been neglected and now extreme intervention may be required. Tartar and plaque, for example, needs to be regularly scraped away in order to keep the mouth healthy and free from bacteria.
After 5 years, teeth will be covered in a concerning amount of plaque and tartar, which will only contribute to the decay of teeth, putting teeth and gums at further risk of infection.
The entirety of the mouth is now likely a cause for concern. Teeth will have become crowded or crooked without any dental intervention and this can cause a host of unwanted issues. Additionally, teeth will also become more sensitive and worn down. One man in particular who had not been to the dentist in 10 years had to spend 18 months getting his teeth reconstructed, with a total cost of £27,000.
Keeping your oral hygiene up to scratch will not only save you money but it can sometimes be the difference between life and death. Oral infections can spread quickly if dental intervention is neglected. Be sure to visit your local clinic for regular check-ups and to give you some peace of mind!