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More Americans fear dental checkups than clowns. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of people have an extreme phobia of dental visits.

If you’re in the other 80 percent of adults, you should be visiting the dentist once every six months. Dental checkups are often forgotten with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

But the impact of neglecting your smile can have consequences. Check out this list of top five reasons you need dental checkups.

5. Gum Disease Detection

Gum disease isn’t usually the topic of small talk but it has a big impact on your appearance. When bacteria get down into the roots of your teeth, your whole mouth suffers.

Gum disease causes infection and inflammation. Waiting too long to address poorly maintained gums can also lead to tooth loss.

It is estimated that more than 100 million Americans experience tooth loss due to gum disease. Losing teeth will affect a person’s self-esteem and jawline.

Not everyone can tell when bacteria enter the gumline. Experiencing zero pain can give you a false sense of confidence that your gums are in healthy condition.

Getting regular dental checkups allows you to prevent or reverse gum disease. Dentists use special tools to detect whether there are bacteria in the gums and take steps to minimize the damage.

4. Get Rid of Stains

Simple habits can lead to major stains on the teeth. This might not be an immediate health risk, but why not have a beautiful smile if you can?

Coffee and tea are the top culprits for stained teeth. See your dentist right away if you’re a regular coffee drinker.

You might not realize the potential whiteness of your teeth until you get a proper cleaning. A dentist can recommend over-the-counter treatment solutions at home that prevent future staining.

3. Cancer Detection

A major reason to get regular dental checkups is to detect oral cancer. If you have a history of cancer in your family, you may be at risk for oral cancer.

Early cancer detection, like gum disease, offers a wider range of treatment options. Cancer exams are pain-free and relatively quick.

Expect your cancer screening to be over in a matter of minutes. The results will provide your dentist with an in-depth view of your oral health.

This life-threatening disease won’t always come with symptoms so avoid the temptation to self diagnose. Avoid the fast spread of oral cancer by allowing your dentist to perform screenings twice per year.

2. Self Care

Just like going to the gym or practicing yoga, maintaining good dental health is a form of self-care. Give your mouth a good deep cleaning as it supports your body by breaking down food throughout the day.

Your teeth need to be pampered with plaque removal and cavity detection to remain strong. Strong healthy teeth lead to a great smile.

Crooked teeth can make you feel self-conscious in ways that affect your confidence levels at work and at home. Consider cosmetic services to enhance any places in your mouth that make you feel uncomfortable.

Specialty services come in a variety of price ranges to fit any budget. Many dentists offer financing plans on cosmetic services that insurance won’t cover.

Make an investment in yourself that can last a lifetime. Support yourself between dental visits by brushing your teeth twice each day.

Talk to your dentist about the best products to use to brighten your smile.

1. Insurance Covers It

If we are lucky, most of us won’t get our money’s worth from insurance premiums throughout the year. While this is great news for emergency medical care, it is bad news for dental checkups.

Health insurance premiums are higher than ever.  Get the most out of your health insurance policy by visiting your dentist regularly.

What to Expect From Checkups

Dental checkups have become faster with advances in oral health technology. But if it’s been years since you’ve stepped foot in a dentist’s office, you might need more work than usual.

Here’s what to expect from a dental visit if you haven’t gone in a while.

Dental X-Rays

Dentists will take x-rays of your mouth from end to end. They’ll start with broad x-rays and then take images of each section.

X-rays help the dentist identify major and minor issues with your teeth and gums. If you have cavities, x-rays tell dentists how severe they are.

You shouldn’t need x-rays at your next visit if your overall mouth is healthy. The dentist will discuss whether x-rays are necessary the following year based on whether you’re at risk for disease.

Keep in mind that radiation from x-rays is low but still not recommended if you’re pregnant. The radiation might impact other conditions so talk to your dentist if you have concerns.

Oral Exam

During the oral exam is where most dental anxiety arises. The hygienist will poke at your gums and teeth to determine their health.

This phase of the process can include teeth cleaning using fluoride or cleaning without. Fluoride is often an additional fee due at the time of service if not covered by an insurance provider.

The hygienist will let the dentist know of any problem areas visible in your teeth from the exam. Following your x-rays and cleaning, the dentist will come in to examine your teeth and provide recommendations if treatment is necessary.

The Importance of Dental Checkups

There’s a magical feeling behind a bright white smile. Keep this feeling between dental checkups by avoiding food and drink that create stains on your teeth.

Not everyone can give up coffee cold turkey, but cutting back on the number of cups you drink each day is a start. The goal is to get your teeth looking great and bacteria at bay.

For more oral care tips, please check our blog for updates.