Routine Dental Hygiene Visits Are More Important Than Many Think

By James G. Jenkins

Maintaining your teeth and gums is a lot like maintaining a car. With a car, you can clean it every day, always park it in two spaces, and even with this meticulous care, the car requires periodic maintenance of oil changes and tune-ups to keep it operating in optimum condition.

Now even with this maintenance schedule, eventually things like brakes and tires wear out and require replacement. Can you still drive a car with bad brakes and tires? Yes, but would you put someone you love in the car and let them drive it?

Over time, other components fail and require major work.

Maintaining your mouth is no different than maintaining a car — and you use your mouth more than a car.

Most people think of their routine dental hygiene visit as just a cleaning. It is true that one aspect of the visit is that hard tarter deposits and stains are removed from around the teeth with specially shaped instruments.

The teeth are then polished and they finally feel slick and clean. However, this vital visit accomplishes so much more.

Your hygiene maintenance appointment is where we look after the health of the gums one tooth at a time, examine the oral tissues for the presence of cancer and look to see if any other problems require treatment to assure keeping your teeth in optimum condition.

The bacteria responsible for gum disease have been linked to blood clots that can cause heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and respiratory diseases. Although patients with gum disease can have symptoms of bleeding gums, bad breath, looseness of teeth and pain, most patients are not even aware of it.

When you consider the fact that four out of five adult Americans have some form of gum disease, doesn’t it make sense to have your teeth checked periodically?

Did you know that the majority of cancers that develop in our bodies show up first in the oral cavity? During a routine hygiene visit we check the soft tissue by visual inspection and palpation. The bone is checked with x-rays. Cancers can show up in the cheeks, gums, tongue, glands and bone.

The importance of a periodic hygiene visit is not simply a matter of preventing diseases. Sometimes, it becomes a matter of life and death.


James G. Jenkins, DMD, is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care.