Attending a dental checkup is not top of many people’s list of favorite activities, and for some it can feel quite intimidating. It can help you feel more relaxed if you remember that your dentist is a skilled professional who has trained and studied for many years in order to not only treat you when things have gone wrong, but to help you maintain your teeth in the best possible health.
Before your appointment, prepare in your mind some questions to put to your dentist before or after the examination. Talking during the examination is usually rather difficult.
What Should You Ask Your Dentist?
Some of the things you might seek advice on include;
- I have heard that sugary drinks like Coke are very bad for children’s teeth. Would you also advise that adults avoid them? If so what is the best alternative?
- Why do some of my teeth give me pain when I eat ice cream or drink a hot beverage? Is there anything I can do to reduce the discomfort as I really don’t want to give up ice cream?
- I have noticed my teeth look rather stained and brown. What causes this and how can I prevent it from happening?
- What do you recommend as the best way to make my teeth look whiter? There are a lot of treatments I’ve seen advertized which make the teeth look dazzling white, but are these safe?
- What are the best foods to include in my diet which will help keep my teeth healthy?
- I am worried about bad breath. Is using a mouthwash a good idea?
- I see that fluoride is an ingredient in toothpaste. What is it for and is it safe to swallow it?
How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
There are many new products around nowadays to help you maintain good oral hygiene which is the key to preventing tooth decay. When a tooth decays it starts to break down causing a cavity and can eventually die. But it is never too late to start looking after your teeth. It is particularly important when you’ve had a treatment such as a root canal filling, crown or extraction to start immediately on a good routine of keeping this area as clean as the rest of your teeth.
Practice good oral hygeine
Good hygiene will help prevent infection in the treated areas. Ask your dentist for clarification if you’re unsure how soon you should resume your normal routine.
Most dentists advise using an electric toothbrush with a fluoride toothpaste. The fluoride is present in very small quantities in toothpaste and it helps to strengthen tooth enamel. If you are unsure about this or prefer to use an ordinary toothbrush ask your dentist for their advice on the best way to go about it. For instance he or she will probably suggest techniques for brushing and replacing the manual brush regularly.
Modern oral hygiene should also include cleaning between the teeth as well as brushing. There are a number of ways this can be done. One way is to use tiny interdental disposable brushes. It is likely your dentist will have some of these in the surgery and will be happy to show you how to use them – just ask.
Go for regular dental checkups
Unfortunately most of us don’t go to the dentist when everything is fine with our teeth. Usually it is because something is wrong and probably painful. If your dentist recommends a particular treatment you can ask them to explain exactly why you need it and what it entails. Trust between the patient and dentist is important to make the experience as stress-free as possible, so you should feel free to have things explained to you clearly.
To keep your teeth in tip top condition the American Dental Association recommends that you have a check up twice a year. This is also an opportunity to have your teeth cleaned by a professional hygienist who has a number of tools at her/his disposal to thoroughly clean and polish your teeth. This is usually a refreshing rather than a painful process. But ask your dentist if they recommend this, as in some cases less or more often may be advisable.
For many people going to the dentist is something they dread or put off for too long. If you go regularly, not only will you give your dentist the chance to catch problems early on, but you can also get to know him or her which makes it easier to relax. Regular visits to the dentist can also have a beneficial effect on your general wellbeing. Studies have shown that poor dental health is connected to a number of other conditions, including some kinds of heart disease.
A dentist can also recommend what medication you should take for any pain. It is important that your dentist asks you some questions of their own before treating you. These should include questions about your general health, any medication you’re taking and also ladies, if you’re pregnant. This is particularly important if any X-rays are going to be taken, as X rays can be harmful to an unborn child and a special apron should be used to protect your abdomen during the X-ray.
We know smoking is bad for our general health, but it’s important to realize how much smoking can also damage your teeth and gums. Smoking dries out your mouth, inhibiting the production of saliva, which makes it more likely to produce potentially harmful bacteria.
According to the American Dental Association, smoking is one of the main causes of periodontal diseases which causes gums to become inflamed, which can lead to tooth decay and even tooth loss.
Stay generally healthy
Your overall health will likely impact the health of your teeth, mouth and gums, so it is important to discuss any concerns you may have in this regard. For example, anyone who is diabetic may have dental problems. If your immune system is compromized you are more likely to succumb to bacterial infections. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, caused by a bacterial infection. A serious case can lead to the gum receding and it is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. If you are worried about this you should ask your dentist to advise you.
Looking After Your Children’s Teeth
If you have children The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends taking them to the dentist while they are young – around the age of 1 when they get their first milk teeth. Studies show children can develop their first cavities by the age of two. This helps your dentist catch potential problems that can affect the child’s overall health and well-being as more teeth erupt over time. This also has the benefit of allowing young children to get used to going to the dentist without associating it with being a distressing experience.
You can also ask your dentist for advice on the best way to care for your child’s teeth and encourage them to brush for themselves. Stickers and other rewards are all part of the service.
Overall, there are lots of things you can do to improve your dental health, and it’s important to treat your dentist as a service provider who is there to help and advise you. Medical science is always evolving, and there are always new products and methods of performing dental hygiene to explore. Keep your teeth and your children’s teeth at their best, go for regular checkups and if you want to know – just ask!