The Importance of Regular Dental Cleanings and Exams

Feb 02, 2024

Your teeth are some of the strongest parts of your body. That doesn’t mean they are invulnerable. Plaque and tartar can sit on your teeth and slowly eat through the enamel, giving bacteria on the surface easy access to the softer pulp inside. 

A strict at-home brushing and flossing routine alone often isn’t enough to keep your teeth and gums healthy as you just can’t get every bit of plaque that creeps below the gumline. Meanwhile, decay can be taking place inside your tooth, unseen and unfelt until you suddenly wake up with a toothache and have to foot a healthy dental services bill.   

At Llanos Dental Group in Miami Lakes, Florida, Dr. Laura Llanos strives to educate patients while helping them protect their teeth. Here is what she wants you to know about preventive dentistry, including your biannual cleanings and exams.

Don’t let cavities creep in

At your biannual dental checkup, Dr. Llanos checks your teeth, tongue, and gums to identify any trouble spots, including soft spots, actual caries (cavities), hairline cracks, and more. She’ll typically order dental X-rays if it’s been a while since your last set, to compare them to your previous ones and look for problems.  Finding a cavity in its early stages means she can remove and fill it, preventing further damage.

Guard against gingivitis

Plaque — hard to remove substance left behind by food debris — sticks to your teeth like unwanted hard candy. If given time, it hardens into tartar, which can be impossible to remove with brushing and flossing. 

If unaddressed, tartar can lead to gum irritation and disease, called periodontitis. The first stage is gingivitis, which should be a warning sign that you need to keep that dental appointment. If you notice sensitivity in your teeth, redness or swelling in your gums, or blood in the sink when you spit after oral hygiene, you probably have gingivitis. 

If you let gingivitis progress into full-blown periodontal disease, you can lose your teeth. Almost half of adults in the United States have some level of gum disease, so you’re not alone if you’ve noticed your gums getting puffy and sore. A proper dental cleaning can scrape away plaque and tartar and give your gums a break.

Check for cancer

Another thing your dentist does is screen for a variety of oral cancers. Since oral cancers often don’t show any signs in their earliest stages, regular screening can help identify issues early and allow prompt treatment. 

Your dental exam provides an excellent opportunity for Dr. Llanos to thoroughly check your tongue, lips, cheek, and jaw for signs that might suggest early stage cancer. Screenings are p[articulary important if you have risk factors for cancers of the head and neck, including familial history, a weakened immune system, excess sun exposure, or a history of tobacco use. 

If you need to catch up on your dental health, and aren’t sure how to restart after missing one or more biannual cleanings and exams, getting back on track is easy. Just contact our Miami Lakes office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Llanos. You can reach us by phone at 305-556-0528, text 305-707-7021, or book your appointment online today.