Do I really have to go to the dentist every six months?
You and your dentist determine how often you need to visit the dentist. Your dentist suggests how often you need to visit based on the state of your oral health. The state of your oral health is influenced by what you do between dental appointments.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I floss every day?
- Do I brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist’s instructions on how to brush properly?
- Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods?
- Do I smoke?
- Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease?
- Is my overall health good?
The answers to these questions are all factors that affect your oral health. They will help you and your dentist decide how often you need to visit for check-ups. Some people visit once a year and some people visit every three months, however most people fall into the six-month range. It’s worth noting that you should not determine your need for dental care on what your dental plan covers.
Do I need x-rays at each visit?
How often you need to have x-rays also depends on your oral health. A healthy adult who has not had cavities or other problems for a couple of years probably won’t need x-rays at every appointment. If your dental situation is less stable and your dentist is monitoring your progress, you may require more frequent x-rays.
If you are not sure why a particular x-ray is being taken, ask your dentist. Remember that dental x-rays deliver very little radiation and they are a vital tool for your dentist to ensure that small problems don’t develop into bigger ones.
Asking questions and getting answers is a part of good health care.
Does my dentist need to wear gloves and a mask, and how do I know he or she is using clean tools?
Your health is very important to your dentist. One of the ways that your dentist helps you stay healthy is by preventing the spread of germs. One of the best ways to do this is to use barrier protection such as gloves and masks.
Your dentist and other dental team members also wash their hands regularly. In addition, they sterilize equipment used in the dental office and clean the furniture and fixtures in the examining rooms. This system is referred to as “universal precautions.” It means that every patient is treated in the same way because patients don’t always know if they’re sick. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you would like to know how this system is carried out in your dentist’s office, ask to be shown how it’s done. Dentists welcome the opportunity to ease their patients’ concerns, rather than have them leave the office with unanswered questions. Once you see the work that goes into making the dental office a clean and safe environment, you will feel reassured.
It is worth noting that even though universal precautions are used, it is still important to tell your dentist of changes in your health. This will help your dentist suggest the right choices of treatment for you.
How common is gum disease?
Nine out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives. It is the most common dental problem, and it can progress quite painlessly until you have a real problem. That’s why it is so important to prevent gum disease before it becomes serious.
Gum disease begins when plaque adheres at and below the visible edge of your gums. If plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar (also called calculus). Tartar promotes a bacterial infection at the point of attachment. In these early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis.
Your gums may be a bit red, but you may not notice anything. As gingivitis gets more serious, tiny pockets of infection form. Your gums may be puffy and may bleed a little when you brush, but it is not painful. Over time, the infection destroys the gum tissue. Eventually, you may be at risk of losing one or more teeth.
Prevention is the most important factor in the fight against gum disease. It is essential to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day and floss at least once every 24 hours.
Using proper brushing and flossing techniques is equally important. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and checkups, so that he or she can detect any early signs of gum disease, and provide appropriate treatment.
Some information provided by CANADIAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION