I chose to pursue a career in dental hygiene because I realized that I could truly make a difference and help people lead healthier lives. Many people do not understand the importance of proper dental care.
In addition to cleaning teeth and performing dental exams, dental hygienists educate their patients about the benefits of preventive dental care and how to maintain good oral health. Oral health is an important indicator of overall health and visiting the dentist should be a part of your healthcare routine.
Here are three reasons to visit the dentist every six months for a regular teeth cleaning:
1. Prevent plaque build-up
Plaque is a tacky deposit that adheres to the teeth and gingiva line (your gums) and is filled with damaging bacteria. Plaque build-up can be caused by the lack of a regular oral hygiene routine. Once plaque builds on the teeth, tartar becomes an issue and it may cause discoloration of the teeth. Seeing a dentist twice a year can help reduce plaque accumulation and improve an individual’s overall oral health condition.
2. Identify and treat tooth decay
It doesn’t take a hygienist long to diagnose tooth decay. Tooth decay affects the external layer of the teeth and is usually caused by the consumption of sugary foods. Tooth decay can exacerbate as plaque builds up and can gradually ruin the teeth. Regular cleanings prevent decay from progressing and destroying the teeth. Left untreated, tooth decay can cause aching, dental caries and can aggravate the gums.
Visiting the dentist regularly makes it easier for you to address tooth decay early on and reduce the need for expensive and occasionally painful dental work, such as a tooth extraction.
3. Reduce the risk of gum disease
A dentist can identify gum disease before it develops into a severe issue. If gum disease is left untreated, it can cause the gingiva to swell up, which makes chewing very painful. Consistent cleanings from a dental hygienist, along with proper brushing and flossing, can help ensure healthy gums and teeth and reduce the risk of developing a severe gum disease.
It’s easy to put off a dentist appointment because it may not seem like an urgent need, especially if you aren’t experiencing any pain or discomfort. If you don’t have insurance, dental care might seem like just another unnecessary healthcare expense.
Visiting the dentist is an important part of managing your overall health and wellness, however. Regular teeth cleanings help prevent severe oral health issues from developing and can reduce your chances of having to pay for an expensive and potentially painful dental procedure later on.
Some clinics may offer free or reduced-cost dental services. As a dental hygienist, I plan to volunteer at local community centers, offer classes to public and charter schools, and even work on a sliding fee scale to help lower cost clinics provide dental services to the public.
I’m currently exploring opportunities with the Student American Dental Hygiene Association (SAHDA), a volunteer network of students who help promote oral health, educate the public and provide others with access to dental care in high-need communities.
I look forward to making a change for the better with my degree.