Has it been a while since your last dental visit? Or maybe you see your dentist regularly but are not sure what you need to know about your own oral health? This blog will help you know what questions to ask your dentist when you go in for an evaluation.
How Often Should I Get My Teeth Cleaned?
Unfortunately, many people answer this question based on the dental insurance benefits they receive, which typically only cover two professional teeth cleanings per year. It is important for patients to understand that your dental insurance carrier has never once looked in your mouth or even had you complete a questionnaire about your dental health. Because they don’t know anyone’s current oral health status or unique risk factors, the benefits they provide are based on averages.
So it is safe to say that, on average, most people need to have a professional teeth cleaning every six months. However, many of us are not average. Some people require more frequent teeth cleanings to maintain optimal gum health and stop gum disease from worsening.
In some cases, the need for more frequent cleanings is temporary only. This is common for pregnant women and adolescents undergoing puberty who have a high risk for gingivitis.
What is my Risk for Different Dental Problems?
This is something every person should know. When you know which dental diseases you have high risk for, you then can take customized preventive measures to lower that risk. Some patients have an extremely low risk for cavities and gum disease, but they are high risk for fractured teeth due to heavy clenching or grinding of the teeth at night. Your dentist can catch early warning signs of these different areas of risk and give you tools to prevent problems before they start!
Should I Be Using any Special Oral Hygiene Products?
Once your dentist identifies your specific risk factors, he or she may recommend specific oral hygiene products to use that will lower those areas of risk. Some of these products may be available over-the-counter, others require online order, and still others require a prescription.
When you use specifically recommended products, you are actively preventing costly dental problems from developing.
How is My Existing Dental Work Holding Up?
Unfortunately, dental work does not last forever. The mouth is a harsh environment, and the physical and chemical assaults we place on the teeth every day causes deterioration of dental restorations over time. Different materials wear at different rates, so it is important for your dentist to know what type of restorations you have and evaluate them at each visit for any signs of breakdown.
Breakdown of existing dental work that is not addressed can lead to underlying cavities or cracks within a tooth and gum disease around the tooth.
What Can I Do to Lengthen the Lifespan of my Dental Work?
Ooh! Good question! Is there anything you can do to help your dental work last longer and slow down that aging process described in #4? Yes.
Be kind to your teeth. When your dentist notes particular risk factors, such as acid erosion or heavy clenching and grinding, she can advise you how to lower those risk factors and protect your dental work for as long as possible. This will likely involve keeping consistent dental visits, treatments to prevent cavities, and custom-fitted nightguards to protect against heavy forces while you sleep.
Did You Perform an Oral Cancer Screening?
This is an important question to ask. In general, all dentists perform an oral cancer screening as part of every oral evaluation. However, we often don’t say so out loud. Since you don’t know exactly what we are looking for while we are looking, you may not know that we are evaluating the inside of the mouth for any signs of suspicious oral lesions. Every person should have an oral cancer screening at least once every year!
Do Any of my Medical Problems Affect my Oral Health?
The mouth is not a closed system. It is part of your overall body, so oral health is closely linked with overall health. Many people experience oral symptoms or signs of systemic health problems. Your medical problems or the prescriptions that you take can have an important effect on your risk for cavities, gum disease, mouth sores, etc . . .
This is why it is so important for you to disclose your entire medical history to your dentist. If you do not inform us that you have a certain autoimmune disorder, we cannot connect that to the problems we see in your mouth.
More Questions for Your Dentist?
Call 972-347-1145 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill and Dr. Cara. They can answer these seven questions and any others you may have about your oral health.