11 Things That Can Happen If You Skip The Dentist

by Carina Wolff

When life gets busy, it's easy to skip out on doctor's appointments, but keeping up with your health is important, especially your teeth. There a number of gross things that can happen to you if you don't go to the dentist every six months, which makes it all the more important to go in to get your teeth cleaned and checked regularly, as unpleasant as going to the dentist sounds. Skipping your appointments can end up doing more than just ruining the appearance of your teeth — it can cause issues that affect other parts of your body as well.

"When it comes to oral health prevention is key," says RealSelf Contributor Dr. Victoria Veytsman over email. "Seeing your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleanings can prevent bigger issues down the road. Regular cleanings prevent gingivitis and plaque buildup and checkups can detect cavities when they are just beginning. A good oral care regimen includes seeing your dentist twice a year — this will ensure your mouth is healthy and prevent dreaded procedure like root canals in the future."

If you've been neglecting your dentist, it might be time to make that phone call. Otherwise, you might have to deal with some of these 11 unpleasant symptoms that result when you skip out on your dental appointments.

1. Plaque Buildup

One of the main things that can happen when you skip the dentist is buildup of plaque that hardens into tartar. "Daily brushing and flossing removes a thin layer of film on the teeth, but a professional cleaning helps remove buildup in hard to reach areas," says Dr. Leslie Townsend, DDS. over email. "Skipping these cleanings, particularly when combined with poor oral hygiene, leaves the plaque undisturbed to accumulate on teeth."

2. Tooth Decay

"Tooth decay can begin as simple as a small cavity, but left untreated, it can cause a slew of health issues," says Townsend. "This ranges from pain and bad breath, to full infection and eventual tooth loss." Detecting issues early on can help halt spread of decay.

3. Tooth Loss

"A common misconception is that tooth loss is an issue for [only] older adults," says Townsend. "Unfortunately, according to the NIDCR, young adults age 20-34 have an average of five missing teeth. "Visits to the dentist can help detect and treat gum and bone recession, decay and other issues before they claim one or more of your precious teeth."

4. Gum Disease

"Even if they don't hurt, red and puffy gums are typically a sign of gingivitis," says Dr. Kyle Stanley over email. "If you're not getting checked up regularly and this persists, you could be in for more serious and expensive issues down the road." If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into a more serious infection called periodontitis, which is a major cause of tooth loss in adults, according to Healthline.

5. Bad Breath

All that plaque and tartar can lead to some stinky breath. "Even in the absence of periodontal disease, there can be halitosis, or bad breath, due to their presence in the mouth," says dentist Dr. Frank Farrelly. "This bad breath is caused by build up of the end products of their digestive cycle, such as sulphur."

6. Cavities

One of the most obvious consequences of skipping your dental visits is more cavities from all that buildup of bacteria. "It’s very easy to fill a small cavity," says Dorfman. "But if you don’t go to the dentist, that small cavity will turn into a big cavity, which can lead to a root canal or crown…essentially, a much bigger problem."

7. Tooth Stains

All that buildup on your teeth can have some unpleasant cosmetic effects as well. "Teeth become dark and yellow due to stains from food, decay, smoking, etc.," says Stanley. Regular cleaning can help keep your teeth free of discoloration.

8. Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is not just unappealing: It can be life threatening. "The best prognosis for a cure is always going to be early detection," says dentist Dr. Bill Dorfman over email. "Your dentist should do an oral cancer screening every six months."

9. Disease In The Body

Neglect your mouth, and you up your risk of getting other disease that affect all parts of your body. "Oral health is directly correlated to other systems of the body, as well as a surprising range of illnesses such as breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many others," says Townsend. "Think of your mouth as the gateway to your body."

10. Abscesses & Pus

"It's not uncommon for abscesses and pus to also go unnoticed," says Stanley. "Without getting checked up regularly and getting x-rays, it's possible for abscesses and other infections to continue to grow."

11. White Coated Tongue

Bacteria that builds up in your mouth not only leads to bad breath, but it can build up and form a white coating on your tongue. If this persists longer for a few weeks, it's definitely time to see your dentist.

As annoying as going to the dentist it, your overall health depends on those visits — so don't skip out.

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