Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. There are several good reasons why you’d want to reschedule your dentist appointment when you are sick.
- Even when you’re starting to feel better, you can still be contagious to others. By making sure you are fully recovered, you are preventing the spread of your cold, flu or virus to others. Something your dentist will be glad you’ve considered.
- When you are sick your body is more vulnerable to sensations of pain. So no matter how gentle your dentist is, any small amount of discomfort is going to feel a whole lot more painful to you.
- Being sick is a time when your body needs as much rest as possible to help you to recover. Having any type of treatment that your body will have to recover from is going to jeopardise your overall recovery. Whether the treatment is a dental check-up, getting a filling or getting your teeth whitened. Your body needs to have strong immunity so that it can fight swelling, inflammation as well as infection.
Seeing a dentist on a regular basis is vital to keep teeth in optimal working order and for general good health.
The traditional rule of thumb has been to visit the dentist every six months.
This is by no means a bad idea but the risk of problems developing with your teeth varies at different times of your life.
- When permanent teeth first come through, they are more vulnerable to decay so children six to eight years old need regular check-ups.
- During the teenage years, the teeth are less vulnerable but when the wisdom teeth come through in the early twenties, risks for problems with your teeth increase again.
- As you get older, gums shrink and having a clear, on-going assessment of your teeth and gums is a very good idea.
If you have a hygiene routine that involves brushing twice a day and regularly using dental floss means you can probably leave that visit to the dentist to once a year. People with a higher risk of dental diseases like smokers or people with a particularly sweet tooth will find it helpful to visit the dentist up to every three or four months.
Even if you aren’t experiencing any pain in your mouth, once a year is still a good idea because cavities don’t begin to hurt until they have become very large.
Most people who have had fillings put in didn’t realise the cavity was there until the dentist found them at a check-up.
Gum disease also doesn’t tend to hurt either so by the time a tooth has come loose then there’s not so much a dentist can do to save it.
Oral cancer sometimes hurts and sometimes it doesn’t. If you haven’t seen a dentist in a long time then it’s an excellent idea to have a thorough examination and a set of dental x-rays taken just to make sure you haven’t got any problems that you haven’t noticed yet.
Experiences in the past, including when you were a child can, cause all sorts of anxiety for patients when it comes to dentistry. Often these experiences become wildly distorted over time and then reinforced negatively by scare stories from others and the media.
Firstly, talk openly about your fear with your dentist, dental nurse and hygienist so that they can accommodate your situation and do what is necessary to eliminate anything that might add to your anxiety. Often one good dental appointment where there has been no pain or triggers that remind you of your earlier bad experience can help you get a better feeling when it comes to visiting your dentist.
One of the things that you may not be aware of is how much technology and new science has been developed in dentistry to reduce pain and the length of time needed for treatments. Even over the course of a single year many new dental materials and techniques are introduced that make dental treatments ever simpler and less painful.
That means listening to stories from friends and family about their horror visits to the dentist are pointless. Those treatments are already long outdated and aren’t used any more because there are now safer and pain-free treatments that are used instead.
Avoiding your dentist because of your fear is actually dangerous, because it means that you’re missing out on getting information and advice that would stop you from needing intensive treatments. In fact overcoming your reluctance to go to the dentist for regular check-ups would mean that you could get help to avoid needing any of the horrible treatments you imagine you need.
Dentists know that many people have terrible fear about going to the dentist, so by speaking with them they’ll be able to make suggestions on other ways to help you over come the anxiety you feel… and there are some very unusual and interesting alternatives they can recommend.
Imagine for a moment what life might be like if you didn’t have any teeth at all or just a few teeth.
The first thing you’d miss is being able to laugh without worrying about showing your teeth, next you’d discover that you have a weird whistling lisp and your speech sounds horrible. To top it all off your face shape would change completely as your cheeks slump inwards and your lips get slack without those lovely teeth you used to have to give you a pretty profile. That’s just for starters; ever thought what it might be like not being able to eat all your favourite foods and how without teeth you can’t chew properly and what that might mean the next time you’re visiting a restroom?
Life without teeth is pretty grim when you get down to it. So, what has this to do with seeing a dentist regularly?
Many of the things that can go wrong with your teeth, that might mean you need to have expensive dental work or lose teeth altogether, are difficult to detect just looking in the mirror while you’re brushing your teeth each day.
Somethings that can go wrong are even difficult for a dentist (who is trained and an expert in teeth) to diagnose without seeing you regularly.
A List of a Few Reasons Why Your Dentist Wants to See You Regularly
1. To check that you are flossing and brushing your teeth properly.
Most things that can go wrong with your teeth are avoidable if you do these two simple things correctly as often as recommended by your dentist for you.
2. To keep track of suspicious-looking conditions.
The condition may be nothing or something very nasty if left untreated, either way, your dentist wants you to know early if there is a problem so you have lots of treatment options to choose from.
3. To ensure hormonal changes that can weaken your teeth are being monitored and tracked.
Changes in the health of your mouth due to hormonal issues can be very fast, so your dentist wants to be on top of your situation before anything terrible happens and you start losing teeth.
4. To monitor the damage you’re doing by grinding your teeth due to stress and anxiety.
Stressful lifestyles do lots of damage to your teeth; so your dentist wants to check that the damage you’re doing is managed and minimised.
5. To keep an eye on older dental work and monitor it for signs of failure.
At some point some of the dental work you’ve had done in the past may need to be restored or replaced; your dentist wants you to have lots of early warning if that’s going to happen to you.
6. To look for unexpected signs of damage to your teeth.
Taking up a new activity which increases your consumption of sugary sports drinks or recovery gels, or other types of lifestyle changes, can create unexpected dental problems that your dentist would want you to know about and have fixed quickly to minimise the extent of the damage.
7. To give you confidence that everything is alright with your teeth.
Anyone with teeth sensitivity or sore gums who knows that these conditions can mask the discomfort from other more serious problems understands how comforting it is to have your dentist tell you that everything is still looking good.
Many patients are reluctant to have Xrays because of the risks associated with radiation exposure; it’s also the reason why many dentists only choose to get x-rays when absolutely essential in your diagnosis or treatment.
X-rays provide your dentist with additional important information about the condition of your teeth and will reveal any hidden decay, problems with the roots of your teeth or issues with your jaw and your facial bones. Things that they can’t get to view any other way without serious undertakings that are very costly to you.
If you are in doubt about the need for x-rays, ask your dentist to explain why they want or need them. You may also want to ask if there is any other alternative to having x-rays; that way you can make a fully informed decision.
How Do X-Ray Machines Work?
X-rays are like visible light rays and will cast a shadow when they are blocked by a solid object, but because x-rays are stronger than visible light rays they can pass deeper and through objects.
When an x-ray is taken of a human body, the rays are blocked or absorbed differently by the different parts of our anatomy. Things like metal implants will appear bright white on an x-ray because they absorb a high percentage of the x-ray. While your bones appear light grey because the rays can pass through more easily and your muscles show up as darker grey because even more of the ray passes straight through. Areas of your body with air are black because the rays pass through without being blocked.
Just like when you flick the switch to turn on a light in a dark room so you can see, the rays from an x-ray machine are only on when the person taking your x-ray switches the machine on. That means once the x-ray machine is turned off there are no more x-rays or radiation coming from the machine.
Is it Safe to Get an X-Ray While I’m Pregnant?
The precautions taken by your dentist by placing a lead apron over your body plus the protection of your body mean that your baby is well protected in the womb. The risks are lowered further with dental x-rays because of the very focused way in which the x-ray machine used by dentists emits it’s beam – in a directly focused small area of your jaw.
While the risk is considered negligible, there is a natural reluctance with most health care practitioners, particularly dentists, to x-ray pregnant women. It would usually only be considered in the case of an emergency when the advantage to the mother’s health is outweighed by any potential risk to your baby.