What to Expect at Your Dental Checkup
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Nowhere is that more relevant than with dental care. As we age, additional challenges may surface, but can be readily managed. Let’s review some of the foundations to maintaining oral health through our life time:
Dental disease, namely cavity and periodontal (gum) disease, originates from bacteria. The build up of plaque, a mixture of bacteria and food debris, results in substances being produced which deleteriously affect the teeth and gums. Prevention of these problems begins with sound oral hygiene practices. Brushing at least twice a day, along with some form of in-between the teeth cleaning (floss, interdental brushes, water piks, etc.) will significantly reduce the build up. Manual brushes can be augmented with an electric toothbrush (i.e., Sonicare) especially if dexterity problems are an issue. Reducing sugar and acidic content in your diet – while emphasizing proper nutrition – further assists in achieving oral health.
Establishing a relationship with a dentist as part of your health care team is also essential. The connection between oral health and overall health is clear: dental problems are scientifically linked to medical conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. During a routine dental checkup, your medical history and medications should be reviewed, and links to dental complaints should be discussed. For example, problems related to a dry mouth are often medication-induced, and recommendations can be made to alleviate those symptoms.
At your dental appointment, a comprehensive oral cancer examination should be performed, followed by tooth and gum evaluation. Technological advances, such as digital x-rays, further enhance diagnosis and treatment planning. A thorough cleaning is also an integral part of the dental checkup.
You may be facing issues with gum disease and recession, root cavities, tooth loss, breakdown of previous restorative treatment, and/or problems with partial or complete dentures. There are many established as well as innovative corrective measures that emphasize “minimally invasive dentistry.” Additionally, significant time should be allotted for a complete understanding of preventive dental measures. Building a comfortable doctor-patient relationship enables you to feel heard, and to have your treatment or financial concerns properly addressed.
Incorporating basic, sound dental practices goes a long way in maintaining your overall health, and helping to correct problems before they progress: an ounce of prevention well worth it.