Despite how important our teeth are to our overall quality of life, the majority of people unfortunately neglect their dental health. Indeed, many people will go three years without seeing their dentist regularly (the recommended schedule is once every six months, or two times a year) and according to the American Dental Hygienist’s Association, almost 80% of adults in the United States have had at least one cavity by the time they were 17. Even more troubling, the World Health Organization suggests that globally, between 60 and 90% of kids in school have one or more cavities. Clearly we’re not modeling good dental health for our children or are lax about finding dentists and scheduling appointments. This needs to change for a variety of reasons, which we’ll get into below.
Why Going to Our Dentists is So Important
Just like any other part of our body, our teeth need regular upkeep and inspections done. Even if we brush and floss on a regular basis, getting a really thorough cleaning done twice a year can only help improve our dental health. Dentists can also help us get ahead of any infections or potential problems with our teeth or gums. For example, they’re likely going to be the first ones to see your wisdom teeth coming in and be able to recommend you to an oral or maxillofacial surgeon for removal before things start getting really painful.
The preventive care they provide is crucial to keeping our teeth in good shape. And given that bad dental hygiene can lead to other health risks like a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes that’s harder to control, it’s important that we’re getting a regular scoop on the state of our teeth.
What Can Our Dentists Help With?
As mentioned above, a routine dentist visit will likely include X-rays and a thorough cleaning. They will likely inquire if you’ve been experiencing any sensitivity to heat or cold in your teeth or been experiencing any pain in your gums or teeth. The answers you give can help them diagnose a problem early on, so be honest!
Dentists can also identify and remove cavities and advise if you need further assistance or care. Root canals, dental implants, crowns, and caps can all fall under their jurisdiction. If you’re embarrassed by the way your teeth look, like over 30% of people in the United States are, they can help with some cosmetic fixes (or refer you to someone who can do more in depth work). But dental implants, bridges, and crowns are all easy ways to fill in a missing tooth and an orthodontist referral can help you straighten out crooked teeth.
They may also recommend a different way to take care of your teeth. Maybe you need an electric toothbrush to adequately clean your teeth or you’re advised to stay away from certain foods or beverages, if you’ve been having a lot of trouble with your teeth.
How Do I Find a Good Dentist?
If you’ve moved to a new area, finding a dentist (or any healthcare professional, really) can be low on the to-do list. But it’s important, even if the array of options feels a bit daunting. Ask for recommendations from friends in the area or colleagues. You’ll need to see if that dentist takes your insurance, of course, but that can be an extremely easy way to find a dentist who works for you.
If you’re going it alone, check online first. Many dentists will have websites or reviews from patients and you can see how satisfied patients were with their care, wait time, and other factors. And often, the types of insurance the dentist takes will be listed on there as well.
Of course, the deciding factor is your own experience with them. You may have to try out a couple of dentists before finding one you like and want to stay with.
Don’t put off your dental care. It’s an important part of your overall health and with a brighter, whiter smile, you may find your self-esteem and confidence levels rising too!