Important Questions to Ask Your Dentist
It’s important to take care of
our teeth, which is why many people visit a dentist every six months. According
to the American Dental Association (ADA) 100 million Americans don’t see a dentist
every year. 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 to make
Regardless 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. However, 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.
Here are some important
questions to ask your dentist.
1. What can I do to prevent cavities?
Dental 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 problem.
Different 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
You may hear the term fluoride
when watching commercials for toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride is a mineral
in many foods and 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
3. What can I do to improve my dental
Since 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 each day, or recommend more
frequent dental visits. A dentist may demonstrate the proper way to floss if there’s
a lot of a bacterium in your mouth.
Your 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. These include:
- whole grains
- lean sources
- low fat or fat
free dairy foods
4. Is my medication affecting my oral
Some medications can increase
the risk for tooth decay. In fact, dry mouth is a side effect of more than 400
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 raises the risk for
5. Do you see warning signs of a
Regular dental exams can offer
clues about your overall health. If your dentist detects 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
Your 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 that can’t 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
- one loss
- changes in the
7. What causes sensitive teeth?
Pain or sensitivity felt after
eating or drinking something hot or cold can be a nuisance. Many issues can
trigger sensitivity, like:
- brushing too
- eating acidic
- tooth decay
- grinding your
- using teeth
Gingivitis and periodontal
disease can 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 weeks.