Having you come in for a checkup every 6 or 12 months may seem like a good way for your dentist to grab at more of your hard-earned money. However, your dentist really does have your best interests at heart when he or she recommends these regular checkups. Depending on your insurance plan, dental checkups can be a bit expensive, but they're really worth the cost since they benefit you in so many ways.
Tooth Decay Is Caught Early
When tooth decay is caught early, it's a pretty minor issue. You might have a tiny cavity that needs to be drilled and filled – a rather painless process that's not too costly and does not require any downtime. If the tooth decay is left to progress, however, it can be very serious. You may need the tooth to be pulled and replaced with an implant or at least covered with a crown. Both of these procedures take longer, involve more pain, and are more costly than filling a cavity. By the time tooth decay causes you any pain, it's usually pretty excessive, so you need to see your dentist for regular checkups if you have any hope of catching it early.
Your Dentist Screens You For Oral Cancer
Your dentist does not just look at your teeth during a checkup. He or she also examines your cheek, gum, and other oral tissue. If you have some beginning signs of oral cancer, like white spots on the roof of your mouth or sore patches that heal slowly, your dentist will detect them and can refer you to a specialist for diagnosis and treatment. You might not notice these symptoms yourself until the cancer is much worse and harder to treat. And don't think you're not at risk for oral cancer if you're not a smoker. While oral cancer is more common in smokers and heavy drinkers, anyone can fall prey to it.
Ongoing Problems Can Be Monitored
Do you have jaw soreness in the morning? Maybe you've been having pain in your TMJ or a tooth that seems to be shifting forward in your mouth. When you have regular dental checkups, your dentist can keep an eye on these little issues and continually guide you in experimenting with different treatments and remedies. If you were to try exploring these treatments on your own or wait until the issue is really bad to seek treatment, you'd run the risk of making matters worse.
It may seem silly to pay to see the dentist every few months when all they are doing is checking over your mouth, but these checkups really do benefit you in the long run.