One of the major issues facing dentists, patients and patients wallets is that the majority of us don’t visit the dentist on a regular basis. According to research from NHS Digital (previously the Health and Social Care Information Centre) half of UK adults haven’t been to the dentist in the last two years. More than a quarter of adults only visit the dentist when they have a problem.
The infrequency and irregularity of dental check-ups is causing a huge number of problems for us. The facts say a lot here with 31% of adults having tooth decay, 66% of us having visible plaque and 29% of the population suffering from regular pain in the mouth or teeth.
How Often Should You Visit the Dentist
Both adults and children should visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend. For those with certain medical conditions, your dental team may want to see you more often.
It is also important to remember that certain types of medication may impact our oral health too, for instance, patients who have ‘dry mouth’ caused by medication may be more likely to get tooth decay and will need to visit their dental team more often.
Why Dental Check Ups Are So Important
The problem we have is that many of us ignore the health of our mouth, especially when we compare it to our overall body health. We allow problems to develop before we actually visit the dentist.
There are a wide number of issues this creates but we have listed the two most common issues left unchecked;
Allowing Gums to Bleed
Allowing your gums to bleed helps create cavities and inflamed gums – pockets develop under the gum-line filled with bacteria that eat away the teeth and eventually the bone causing tooth loss. Visiting the dentist regularly can ensure your gum health is properly maintained and early treatment prevents serious problems developing.
Tooth pain is most often caused from cavities forming. Once a cavity reaches the stage where it is causing pain then root canal treatment (or possibly tooth loss) is more likely, or an extensive filling. Regular check-ups ensure that the beginnings of a filling can be identified, treated and additional brushing routines created.
Overall dental check-ups will dramatically decrease the potential for all oral health problems becoming serious. They are also cost effective compared to paying for expensive major dental works such as tooth replacements, crowns and gum repair.
Check Up Costs Are Low
NHS standard dental check-ups cost £19.70. This includes a check of your teeth and gums and also covers basic treatments including scaling, polishing and the application of fluoride varnishes and fissure sealants. You will also receive advice on preventing issues developing and your brushing technique and habits.
Private dental check-ups are not significantly more expensive in most parts of the country starting from just £25 in some areas, though more affluent areas and particularly London can see higher costs.
Visiting the dentist should be a regular part of your schedule, just like a proper oral health routine. The benefits of check-ups far outweigh any minor inconveniences booking an appointment might cause!
It’s time to prioritise our oral health. If you haven’t seen your dentist in a while use this article as a reminder and motivation to book an appointment with yours today.
Written by Alex Mungo, Oral Health Foundation