It’s important to take care of your
teeth, which is why many people visit a dentist every six months. Still, according
to the American
Dental Association (ADA), each year 100 million Americans don’t see a dentist at all. Some
people dislike going to the dentist and put off scheduling an appointment for
as long as they can, and others think they’re too busy.
of how you feel about dentists, you need to see a dentist on a regular basis.
It’s also important
to prepare for your visits. This preparation goes beyond making sure the office
accepts your health insurance. You should also prepare to have a conversation
with your dentist regarding your oral health.
some important questions to ask your dentist.
1. What can I do to prevent cavities?
cleanings remove plaque from teeth and reduce the risk of cavities. Your
dentist will check your teeth for cavities after each cleaning. Cavities are
tooth decay, or holes that form on the surface of your teeth. They don’t typically cause discomfort in
the early stages, but pain and sensitivity may develop if you ignore the
factors increase the risk for cavities. These include drinking sugary beverages,
eating sugary foods, and bacteria in the mouth. Your dentist can recommend a
plan to reduce your number of cavities. This can include brushing or flossing
more often, avoiding certain types of foods, and chewing sugarless gum
throughout the day to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth.
2. Why is fluoride important to my dental health?
hear the term fluoride when watching commercials for toothpaste and mouthwash.
Fluoride is a mineral in many foods and treated water. It strengthens tooth enamel
and lowers the risk of tooth decay. After an oral exam, your dentist can
determine if you need to increase your fluoride intake. You can use toothpaste
and mouthwashes containing fluoride.
3. What can I do to improve my dental health?
everyone's mouth is different, improving your oral health may require a
customized dental routine. Your dentist may make specific recommendations based
on the present health of your mouth and teeth. If you have more plaque or
tartar than the average person, your dentist may suggest flossing more often,
or recommend more frequent dental visits. A dentist may demonstrate the proper
way to floss if there’s a lot of a bacteria in your mouth.
dentist can also offer diet recommendations for good dental health. For example,
the ADA recommends drinking plenty
of water and eating a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.
- whole grains
- lean sources of protein
- low fat or fat free dairy foods
4. Is my medication affecting my oral health?
medications can increase the risk for tooth decay. In fact, dry mouth is a side
effect of more than 400 prescription and over-the-counter medications, says
the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). People who have dry mouth have a lower amount
of saliva in their mouth. Saliva helps control bacteria in the mouth and washes
away food particles. A lower amount of saliva can raise the risk for cavities.
5. Do you see warning signs of a serious condition?
dental exams can offer clues about your overall health. When dentists
detect an issue, they
may recommend following up with your family doctor. For example, erosion of
tooth enamel can be caused by acid reflux disease or grinding your teeth at
night. Swollen, receding gums can be an early sign of diabetes. Inflamed gums
and loose teeth can be a warning sign of heart disease. Although several
medications can cause dry mouth, this problem is also a sign of diabetes or
6. Why do I need dental X-rays
dentist will take X-rays of your mouth if you’re a new patient, and they may
repeat X-rays once a year. An X-ray helps your dentist identify mouth diseases
be detected by oral examination. There’s usually an additional cost for
X-rays. But these imaging tests can potentially save you money because your
dentist can diagnose and correct teeth issues early. X-rays can detect:
- tooth decay
- bone loss
- changes in the bone
7. What causes sensitive teeth?
sensitivity felt after eating or drinking something hot or cold can be a
nuisance. Many issues can trigger sensitivity, like:
- brushing too hard
- eating acidic foods
- tooth decay
- grinding your teeth
- using teeth whitening products
(a type of gum disease that causes swollen, irritated gums) and periodontal
disease (a more severe gum disease that affects the teeth’s supporting
structures) can also cause sensitivity. Your dentist can check your mouth for
signs of these diseases and offer suggestions for treating pain. Sometimes,
sensitivity develops after dental work, such as a cleaning or a root canal.
This type of sensitivity isn’t permanent, and usually resolves within a couple of
dental cleanings are crucial to your oral health. To keep your teeth and mouth
healthy, you should see your family dentist every six months, brush at least
twice a day, and floss daily. Also, notify your dentist of any changes, such as
sensitivity to hot or cold, mouth sores that don't go away, bad breath, and
tooth or mouth pain.