Oral Health Resources | 20 October, 2020

What Happens When You Don't See A Dentist

It's not uncommon to put off visiting the dentist. You know you need to go to the dentist but it often gets put on the list of things to do but continues to be put off.

What happens if you don’t go to the dentist for a long period of time? Dentists recommend an annual check-up and a professional clean from your hygienist twice a year to remove plaque and prevent cavities.

Board-certified pediatric dentist and director of the dental school Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, Lynn Gargano said although you should try going to the dentist regularly if it isn't possible to go twice a year there are ways you can stay healthier between visits.

"Individuals can maintain their oral health by limiting sugar intake, drinking fluoridated or regular water (especially after eating), brushing twice daily and flossing once daily," Gargano said.

"The health of your mouth is largely up to you, but let’s look at what might happen if you put off going to the dentist for long periods of time."

Skipping the dentist for one year

It's almost been a year since your last visit to the dentist, what might be going on with your mouth?

According to Gargano, it's possible you could be developing new cavities, small cavities could be progressing in size, and you could even be in the beginning stages of periodontal disease (gum disease), which leads to gingivitis. This will most likely occur if you're eating too much sugar on a regular basis or if you're not brushing your teeth often. 

Skipping the dentist for two years

It's been two years since your last visit to the dentist. At this point, your dental cavities might be getting to the point of needing more complex treatment than a filling.

"Patients can begin to have tooth sensitivity and pain, possibly needing a root canal and crown to save the tooth," Gargano said.

"This is because the tooth is exposed to acid, bacteria, and sugars on a regular basis, and over time it can make the decay of the tooth even worse without regular cleaning. That’s not only painful but a lot more expensive to fix than a simple filling," she said.

"As far as periodontal disease, it will progress, and bone loss can start (turning into periodontitis), which can damage the soft tissue and, eventually, destroy the bone."

Skipping the dentist for five years

You usually wouldn't plan to let it get to the stage where it's been five years since your last visit to the dentist but it does happen. It's certainly not recommended and can often mean more painful, expensive dental work is now required.

"In five years, what was a small cavity can progress to either needing a root canal or the tooth can potentially become non-restorable and need to be extracted," Gargano said. "Additionally, as bone loss progresses, the disease process can also lead to tooth loss."

With regular dentist and hygienist visits, you can prevent painful and expensive problems from occurring - saving you money and stress!

Skipping the dentist for ten years

Once it gets to ten years since your last visit, it's likely you will be experiencing dental decay and periodontal disease might be happening on more than one of your teeth.

Not many people know that poor oral health can impact the rest of your body.

"These diseases can lead to an increase in the oral bacteria that can be harmful to heart function, increasing chances of heart disease and stroke," Gargano said.

That's why it's so important to take care of your oral health with regular visits to your dentist and hygienist. Between your visits make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily to help maintain optimum oral health and prevent decay.

Source: Carolyn Steber, Hello Giggles