No more checkups? What happens if you never go to the dentist

October 9, 2023

“What if I just…didn’t go?”

The thought suddenly creeps in: what happens if you never go to the dentist? It usually starts when you miss a checkup and don’t notice any negative effects, or when you talk to someone who seems to have great teeth even though they never go to the dentist.

Suddenly, you’re thinking about all the time, money, and inconvenience you could save yourself by making checkups and cleanings a thing of the past.

“I brush, I floss, my teeth feel fine — do I actually need this?”

You do. 

…said the dentists on their dental clinic website. Okay, we see why you may have some doubts about just taking our word for it. 

So, instead of just broadly saying that checkups are cleanings and checkups are good for you, we’re going to talk about 5 specific ways they improve your health that even the most diligent at-home care can’t replace.

Why listen to us?

We’re a team of 6 dentists with experience treating patients across Canada and internationally. Several of us have operated our own clinics independently, and - together - we have over a century of combined experience in helping people manage their oral health.

At-home vs professional care

Newer, more advanced at-home oral healthcare tools are hitting the market all the time. 

Today, you can easily find a mouth-scanning toothbrush or cordless water flosser at your local supermarket — tools that would’ve been like science fiction a decade ago.

But - even though at-home tools are getting better - studies show that they still can’t deliver the kind of full-mouth cleanliness that a clinical cleaning can. And when it comes to spotting issues early, well, they don’t really do that at all.

So how do they help? Below, we’ve outlined five benefits to professional, in-clinic care that make coming in for checkups and cleanings 100% worth the effort.

Cleaning in Hard-to-Reach Areas

While your toothbrush does a decent job, professional dental hygienists have specialized tools that can provide a more thorough cleaning. They can reach and clean areas that are often missed during regular brushing, ensuring a higher level of plaque removal.

How it makes a difference:

Even if you’re using the entire arsenal of dentist-recommended at-home cleaning tools, like an electric toothbrush, string floss, a water floss, and mouthwash, there are some areas that are practically impossible to clean thoroughly, like the tight spaces between your molars.

It might take longer for gum inflammation or cavities to develop, but buildup is buildup — once there’s enough of it, problems will follow.

Even in the areas that you *can* reach, it isn’t always easy to clean off stuck on plaque or polish away deep stains. A hygienist has the tools, training, and control to tackle tough tartar and stains throughout your mouth.

Money-saving Early Detection

Dentists are skilled at identifying subtle signs of dental issues that might go unnoticed. Their ability to detect problems early is crucial for preventive care since it catches problems before they escalate into more serious conditions.

How it makes a difference:

Let’s say you notice a discoloured spot on your tooth. If you’re just relying on at-home care, there’s not much you can do to really figure out what’s going on.

You might try using a whitening toothpaste or switch to whitening strips for a while thinking that the problem is just a stain. And it might just be a stain! 

But it could also be a developing cavity, and without proper care, there’s a reasonable chance it’d turn into a deeper infection that would call for a more costly root canal procedure rather than a simple filling. 

Personalized Recommendations

Dental professionals know that each individual's oral health needs are unique, and they tailor their care to address specific concerns or conditions. There’s no automated program serving up treatment plans — every time you visit the dentist, the advice and recommendations you get are entirely personalized based on your dental history and current health status.

How it makes a difference:

Not all dental problems show up in the form of throbbing discomfort or sharp pain, and they aren’t always persistent either. That makes it easy for them to gradually damage your teeth without you actively realizing it.

Take teeth grinding or dry mouth as examples. Both can be triggered by your stress levels and routine, but - since the first one happens while you’re sleeping and the second one can be very subtle - it’s entirely possible that you wouldn’t be aware of them until they’d affected your teeth.

With a quick exam and a few questions, though, a dentist would easily be able to spot either condition and help you avoid their damaging effects.

More Capable Equipment

It isn’t just at-home dental technology that’s getting better over time. Clinical tools are regularly improving, too, not just to make your treatment safer and more comfortable, but to help dentists spot problems sooner and more accurately.

How it makes a difference:

Generally, people self-assess their teeth with two measures: (i) do my teeth look okay; and (ii) do I feel any pain or discomfort.

The problem with that approach is that your visible teeth are just one part of your overall oral health, and that - in many situations - you won’t feel discomfort until a problem is fairly severe. 

For example, a cavity can develop under a crown or old filling, but - since that places it basically inside the tooth - you wouldn’t be able to see or feel it until the infection reached a very advanced stage.

Clinical-strength Protection

Whether it’s the fluoride at the end of your visit, or a special prescription to help fight bad bacteria below the gum line, dentists can administer extra-strength preventive treatments and interventions that offer an added layer of protection against potential dental issues.

How it makes a difference:

We’ve got the strong stuff. Yes, that’s a blunt way of describing it, but it’s essentially true. 

As certified, regulated healthcare professionals, dentists are able to prescribe or administer solutions that are better at protecting your teeth and providing targeted care. 

That’s not meant to be professional gatekeeping; these products are restricted because they have stronger, potentially dangerous concentrations or need to be specially formulated on-demand because they have a very short shelf life. That’s why you can’t just order them online or grab them at your local pharmacy.

The best option? Clinical and at-home care, together

At-home care isn’t enough all by itself. Neither is relying mostly on cleanings and checkups.

If you want to have great oral health, you need to be diligent about both kinds of care. 

The effort you put in at home stops bad bacteria from getting out of control, while the care you receive at the dental office protects you from major problems and gives you a strong foundation to take care of.

To recap, here are the benefits that your routine visits provide:

  1. They clean hard-to-reach areas
  2. They save you money in the long run
  3. They improve your daily comfort
  4. They proactively identify problems
  5. They offer extra-strength protection

Ready to book your next checkup?

We’re honest enough to admit that going to the dentist isn’t most people’s favourite thing to do. But we’re also honest enough to tell you that those visits are absolutely worth it.

If you’re looking for a dentist in the Tri-Cities, it’d be our pleasure to care for your smile. You’ll get all the benefits we talked about in this article, plus a whole bunch of extra conveniences like extended hours, direct billing, and treatment financing.

We also have 6 dentists at our Port Coquitlam clinic. They’re all part of our team, not just sharing the space, so you get access to all of their expertise for treatments large and small. 

If you have questions before registering or you’re ready to schedule your first appointment with us, you can get started by calling (604) 474-2510 or messaging us online.

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