By Dr. Michael Vold

Regular dental check-ups play an important role in maintaining healthy teeth. Visiting your dentist at least twice a year can prevent infections from spreading, minimize the amount of dental work that is needed, and keep your gums disease-free. More frequent visits may be necessary if you are at a higher risk of oral diseases.

During a dental check-up, both your teeth and gums are thoroughly examined. Infections, tooth decay or other non-optimum dental condition are immediately addressed, and preventative measures such as teeth cleaning are taken to avoid potential future problems.

Mouth infections can occur for many different reasons, including dietary changes, stress and a weakened immune system. Left untreated, an infection can lead to cavities, abscesses and other dental issues that can require costly and extensive dental procedures. When an infection is caught early and cavities are filled quickly, your teeth will also last longer.

Another benefit of regular check-ups is the prevention of gum disease. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease and is often reversible. Periodontitis is a more serious gum condition involving an infection of the ligaments and bones that brace the tooth. The infection and resulting inflammation causes tooth and bone loss.

Gum disease can also lead to health issues. Gingivits for example, has been linked to heart disease and stroke due to the higher levels of bacteria that develop in areas of the mouth where the infection is located. As the disease progresses, the risk of cardiovascular disease becomes greater.

Teeth cleaning by a dentist is one of the best ways to ensure your gums remain healthy. It is a routine procedure that also reduces the likelihood of cavities. During the cleaning, several small tools are used to remove dental plaque, including a scaler and polisher. Plaque is a colorless film of bacteria (and sugars) that come from the food you eat. It is the acid from plaque that causes cavities. The scaler is used to remove the hard pieces of plaque that can form on and between teeth. The polisher gets rid of smaller plaque particles and buffs the teeth. The teeth cleaning procedure is usually performed by a hygienist, and takes approximately 30 minutes.

During your dental check-up and cleaning, you may also be given advice on how to improve your home brushing and flossing.

Taking proper care of your teeth can reduce your dental expenses and prevent tooth loss as you get older. Regular check-ups and cleaning are part of the maintenance process, and should be scheduled as often as necessary with your dentist.

About Dr. Michael Vold

Dr. Michael Vold has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin (1963), a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Northwestern University Dental School (1967) and a Juris Doctor degree from DePaul University College of Law (1980). He served as a dentist in the U.S. Air Force and taught as an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, College of Dentistry. Dr. Vold is a member of the American Dental Association, Illinois State Dental Society, Chicago Dental Society, American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists, as well as the recipient of numerous professional honors and awards