Some people only visit the dentist when they experience a toothache or a dental emergency, like a chipped or fractured tooth. Many health conditions, like high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease can be prevented with annual physicals. Likewise, toothaches and dental emergencies may be avoided if you attend six-month checkups and cleanings with Dr. Locke.

Tooth Trouble

Commonly, a toothache is the symptom that signifies a cavity, chip, fracture, tooth wear, or internal infection. Impacted wisdom teeth also cause pain. How can  you avoid these problems? At your checkup, Dr. Locke will examine your teeth for signs of damage, review your x-rays, and ask if you have any immediate concerns. He can find developing issues, like demineralized tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Tooth wear on molars may signify TMJ disorder or bruxism (clenching and grinding teeth), and bruxism can lead to chips and fractures.

Gum Problems

You should attend six-month checkups, but you also need cleanings on the same schedule. At cleanings, our dental hygienist will examine your gums and ask questions, like: Do your gums bleed? Are your gums tender, red, or swollen? Do you have any sores in your mouth that won’t heal? If your gums bleed, you may be brushing too hard or you could have periodontal disease. As many as 80{dcbe0cd52ce35e2f156887e14605e24111ce99c14f01d3853732956d43020bdd} of Americans have gum disease, and the condition is linked to increased risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and other serious health problems. If the hygienist sees cause for concern, she’ll provide counsel or treatment based on her findings. In some cases, patients just need better homecare and special dental products to reverse early gum disease. Other situations call for a deep cleaning and antibiotic treatment. Left alone, gum disease won’t go away. It will grow and can lead to tooth and bone loss. Gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss for adults in the United States. Early detection and treatment are important.

Whole-Health Issues

Dental health is closely linked to overall health. For example, the same bacteria that cause tooth decay, Streptococcus mutans, can enter the blood stream through cuts or sores in the mouth. S. mutans is the leading cause of endocarditis, a potentially fatal condition that involves inflammation of the heart valves. Also, as described in the previous section, gum disease is associated with increased risk for many systemic health problems. Regular dental checkups and cleanings will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums, which will in turn reduce your risk for serious health conditions.

If you don’t visit Dr. Locke until you can feel something wrong, you may spend more time and money on dental work. The best medicine is preventive, so schedule you six-month checkups and cleaning today. Contact our dental office in Waco, Texas at (254) 776-4888 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Corbet Locke.