What Really Happens To Your Teeth If You Skip A Dental Cleaning?

Some people don't mind visiting the dentist, but others dread those bi-yearly visits. It is recommended that adults with healthy teeth take a trip to the dentist at least once a year, but twice is optimal (via Self). So what happens if you don't hit all those appointments? "I understand that life gets busy, so if you're on the healthier side, once a year is fine," Dr. Vera Tang, DDS, said. "Going twice a year would be on the safe side — any minor changes can be caught early and more easily remedied than if you wait the full year."

The consequences of skipping a dental cleaning will depend largely on your consistent dental habits. If you brush and floss daily, eat a well-balanced diet, and avoid acids and sugars that can damage your teeth, you'll probably be okay if you miss a single dental cleaning. However, a professional cleaning will improve your oral health much better than you can do alone at home. During a cleaning, your dentist will remove plaque and tartar that built up along your gum line and in between your teeth over time (via Healthline). Even people with great cleaning routines will develop tartar over time and it can only be removed professionally.

Dental cleanings also serve as preventative health screenings

According to the American Dental Association, regular visits to your dentist are highly recommended even if you have a healthy mouth. "Regular dental visits are important because they can help spot dental health problems early on when treatment is likely to be simpler and more affordable," said the ADA. If your dental hygienist notices early signs of gum disease, cavities, or oral cancer, they can suggest treatment to fix the problem or prevent it from worsening. An evaluation of your mouth can even uncover things like vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, and osteoporosis (via Healthgrades).

If you avoid the dentist because of anxiety or stress, it is important that you find a way to get yourself to the office. There are many ways to make the experience less stressful, and it starts with talking to your dentist. They deal with many patients in the same boat, so they can help you find a way to feel more relaxed during your exam. "The dentist and hygienist are striving for an appointment that will make you healthier, encourage you to have good habits at home, and encourage you to come back to help prevent disease," Dr. Maria Lopez Howell, DDS, told Self. Most dentists will allow you to listen to music during your appointment or even use nitrous oxide to make the experience more comfortable.