Know Your Teeth: Five Questions to Ask Your Dentist
By Kara Masterson
Many people visit the dentist twice per year for checkups and cleanings but do not think to inquire further about their oral health. The following five questions can yield important clues about what is going on in the mouth and how it effects the rest of the body.
Am I Brushing and Flossing Properly?
Although the majority of people learn how to do both as children, it can be helpful to get a refresher course in brushing and flossing technique. As people age, it becomes more important to thoroughly clean the teeth. If the dentist is too busy, the hygienist can demonstrate the right way to care for teeth.
Do I Grind My Teeth?
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common issue with children and adults that is usually related to stress. The condition often occurs at night during sleep, so the person is not aware it is happening. In some cases, the teeth and jaw may ache in the morning upon awakening. Bruxism causes excessive tooth wear and may lead to more severe problems without intervention.
Was I Screened for Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer can occur in anyone but is especially prevalent in those who smoke or use other tobacco products. It often has no symptoms and without regular screening, it can go completely undetected until it is too far advanced to treat effectively. An oral cancer check should occur with each dental visit.
Is There Anything My Primary Doctor Should Know?
Since people see dentists more often than their family doctors, other serious health problems can make an appearance during the exam or on X-rays. For example, increased triangular spaces between teeth may indicate the beginnings of osteoporosis. Since oral health is directly tied to overall health, it is crucial that the dentist communicate any concerns to the patient.
How Often Should I Visit?
Twice yearly visits to the dentist are enough for most people, but others with more persistent teeth and gum issues may need to go every three months. This is very important for those with periodontal disease or who have a tendency to develop cavities. The dentist will recommend a plan that works for a patient’s particular needs.
Taking care of teeth is one of the more important health concerns a person can have. Visiting the dentist regularly and asking questions will keep a smile bright and other potential problems at bay.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max. Information credited to Abbotsford Dentist.
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