A: Every January, I, like many others, think about my health more than any other time of year. One visit back to the health club after my “holiday break” reminds me that I am not the only one feeling guilty about devouring way too many holiday treats. The question this year is, how healthy do I want to be? Will I go beyond shedding those extra pounds? What about something as simple as going for a dental check-up? How long has it been?
Sitting around the table this year, my own brother admitted something to me that hit home. He has not been to a dentist in over nine years, but insists that brushing his teeth every day should be enough. Being a dentist, I fired back with – “What about the things that you can’t see or are ignoring?” Things such as gum disease and cavities are not readily apparent. Bleeding gums and bad breath are pretty good indications of real problems that have serious consequences on his overall health.
Q: If I brush twice a day and nothing hurts, why should I go to the dentist?
A: While good homecare is important, regular dental care is essential in avoiding dental problems. Visiting the dentist twice a year is the best way to insure a healthy mouth. Dentist’s use professional tools to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria build-up that you are generally unable to efficiently clean with normal brushing at home. Regular dental care will give you clean teeth, a healthy mouth, and a confident smile.
Q: How often should I go to the dentist?
A: The American Dental Association has long recommended that people visit the dentist at least once a year to get a routine examination and cleaning. If gum disease is present, that frequency of dental visits should be more often in order to prevent the progression of gum disease and tooth loss. Chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease also necessitate more frequent dental visits.
Q: Are x –rays really necessary if I am worried about radiation exposure?
A: Dental x-rays are the best way to visualize cavities between the teeth and are necessary for a thorough dental examination. Would you take your automobile to the mechanic, but refuse to open the hood of your car? The same idea applies here. Additionally, digital x-rays are very safe and are a very low dose of radiation. Digital images can decrease radiation exposure as much as 75% while providing more information than traditional film.