Is Your Dentist REALLY Doing Their Job?
Most people visit their dentist every 6 months; others have ongoing issues that have them in the chair more frequently than that. Whether you go regularly for routine cleanings or only when something comes up like a filling or crown, your dentist should always be on the lookout for signs of more serious conditions. After all, the mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. Numerous links exist now between oral health and things like cardiovascular and lung disease, so how do you know that your dentist is really doing their job? To be sure that youre getting the most out of your dental visits there are a few things you should pay attention to. Heres what to look for: The most important thing that your dentist should be doing is screening for signs of periodontal disease. According to studies, those who have gum (periodontal) disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. If it goes untreated, your risk of things like pneumonia and even stroke go up. Some people think that its normal for their gums to bleed, but this is sadly not the case at all. Its a telltale sign of gum disease, and all too often dentists or hygienists fail to probe the areas between the teeth and gums to check for separation. Make sure theyre doing this, and pay attention to the measurements they come up with. The deeper the pocket, the more serious the problem can be and if you let it go too long the options that they will likely give you are not only expensive, but also quite painful. Oral cancers are becoming a hot topic, and theyre something that your dentist should always be looking for. Even things like ill-fitting crowns or fillings with sharp edges can cause ongoing irritation that can lead to precancerous lesions. Tobacco use affects more than the lungs also, as the irritation from smoke can do the same thing. Smokeless tobacco is of course worse for this due to the irritation on the gums and cheeks and can lead to a condition called leukoplakia, which is a cancerous lesion. Its as simple a process as taking extra care to look for spots or lesions on the tongue, palette, and cheeks. People who have these dont often know because theyre painless more often than not, and we never really take the time to examine the insides of our cheeks. Medical technology is ever changing, and that goes the same for dental tech. Conventional x-rays that are typically used in dental offices expose you to 10 times more radiation than newer digital x-rays. If you need a crown, there are newer computer aided design devices that can make digital 3-D impressions for those and also use less radiation. Check to see if your dentist is on the cutting edge, or just wants to cut. Everyone has heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and we all remember if for good reason: its absolutely true. Taking good preventative care of your mouth can not only save you money by having fewer yearly trips to the dentist, but it can also help prevent you from having to go through painful and even more expensive procedures if things get out of control. Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft brush so that you dont irritate your gums, and floss at least once daily or more frequently if needed. Just as important as those tips is remembering to steer clear of products that will dry your mouth out like mouthwash that contains alcohol or toothpastes with detergent soaps, which are unfortunately a large part of the market. When you do sit down in the exam chair though, make sure your dentist or hygienist is giving you your moneys worth and doing their job to prevent further diseases.