The Benefits of Having a Dialogue with Your Dentist
Dentists, by nature, are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. They spend most of their work days involved with the care of their patients in a one-on-one setting in close quarters. They don’t just talk about teeth, either! Many of them have a wide repertoire of interests, which they willingly share.
But more importantly, your dentist is your front line friend in the care of your teeth; not only when you need regular maintenance or have a problem, but also in the prevention of trouble down the road. Sometimes, what they find during an exam doesn’t just show them your dental problems, but may indicate general health problems.
When you have an opportunity to spend time in the dental chair, you may want to forgo the talk about football, and have a dialogue with your dentist in order to use their expertise to your full advantage.
Here are some topics that you may want to talk about during your regular checkup:
1. Can you help me create a dental care plan so I can keep my teeth in the best shape possible?
This should include what you, as a patient can do to improve your oral health, and what your dental office can do to improve your oral health.
For example, dental care isn’t just about brushing and flossing. Sometimes, a patient may habitually grinding their teeth when you sleep, or have TMJ. In those situations, your dentist can provide you with a mouth guard to keep you from grinding at night. Other factors could involve smoking cessation, vitamins, a different kind of toothpaste or floss, or a fluoride rinse.
2. Is there anything I should tell my physician?
Sometimes, periodontal disease can indicate a systematic risk factor. Your breath can tell your dentist if you have diabetes, kidney or liver failure, GERD, bronchitis, or a tonsil stone. Certain enamel erosion patterns can indicate eating disorders or alcoholism. X Rays can indicate osteoporosis. You’d be amazed at how much your dentist can determine during a routine visit.
3. Is there anything you need to know from my physician?
New health problems can create new dental concerns. Your dentist can give you the best care when they are aware of any ongoing health concerns, such as diabetes, clotting diseases, and the medications you take. You will also want to keep your dentist apprised of stress, pregnancy, and cardiovascular problems.
If you have cancer, tell your dentist. Some types of radiation or chemotherapy can affect your dental health. You may want to pre-treat dental issues before these procedures. In addition, your dentist will know what to watch for and may want to step up your oral care to prevent or reduce dental complications which may occur during and after your cancer treatment.
4. Do you have any dietary recommendations?
Talk to your dentist if your diets is high in sugar, acidic or carbonated beverages. Reducing or eliminating tobacco consumption or highly tannic beverages such as coffee and tea may help reduce staining. Drinking less alcohol will provide better oral hydration. Vitamins and good nutrition can all work together to create better oral health.
5. Can you perform a risk assessment for periodontal disease?
A periodontal risk assessment takes into account family history, the historical and current health and dental health and habits of the patient, levels of recession, tooth and mouth condition, bruxism (nocturnal grinding), and an assortment of other factors. There is now a genetic test, which shows the a combination of alleles in two IL-1 genes, which can indicate an increased susceptibility for tooth loss in patients who have periodontal disease. This kind of risk assessment can really go a long way in helping you to understand what steps you need to take to ensure your dental and overall health.
Having an ongoing dialogue with your dentist won't just strengthen your professional bond. The two of you, along with your dental hygienist, can work together to create an environment that will ensure you receive the best possible dental care available for life.
Keep smiling, everyone!