Many people put off going to the dentist, especially as they get older. However, what they don’t understand necessarily is how dental health affects overall health. In fact, dental care is one of the best things you can do for your body and general being.
Still, although nearly 85% of kids ages 17 and younger annually go to the dentist, only about two-thirds of adults under the age of 65 do the same. In other words, people tend to view dental visits as less important as they age.
If you’re thinking of stopping your dental appointments, think again. You should understand how dental health affects overall health before making any decisions that could have widespread ramifications. Of course, it’s important to acknowledge that engaging in family dentistry isn’t something that all households put front and center for various reasons.
Why Some People Backburner Their Dental Visits
Are you one of the many people who didn’t make one trip to the dentist this year? Or are you someone who tends to set up visits, only to cancel or no-show at the last minute? Chances are that even if you know how dental health affects overall health, you’re focused on one of three issues.
First, you may worry about the money involved with seeing a dentist. This is understandable, because unless you have dental insurance, you may have to pay out of pocket. Nevertheless, many dentists make their services extremely affordable to patients. Some offer their own versions of financing, while others help patients learn about third-party payment providers.
Not worried about the cost? Maybe you’re fearful of the dentist. Lots of kids and adults suffer from dental phobia. They might hate the way the dentist’s office sounds or smells. Or they feel restless when sitting in the dentist’s chair. Often, people suffering from dental anxiety remember a bad dental experience from their past. Yet it’s important to understand that dentistry has come a long way. Most dental offices use high-end, modern equipment and treatments geared toward efficient services and virtually pain-free results.
Finally, you may simply not fully appreciate how dental health affects overall health. For instance, did you know that what happens in your mouth can affect your entire body? Patients with undiagnosed or untreated problems like advanced periodontal disease are at higher risk of many types of conditions, including heart disease and related events.
Basically, though it’s understandable if you’ve been missing appointments, you need to change the way you view going to the dentist. Read on to learn more about how dental health affects overall health.
Why Your Physician Recommends Going to the Dentist
Has your primary care physician ever asked about who treats you for your oral health? There’s a reason your doctor wants to know where you go, and it’s not to be nosy.
Physicians realize that what happens in your mouth matters. Case in point: Dentists are often the first professionals to spot signs of oral cancer. The earlier any cancer is identified, diagnosed, and staged, the better the chances of long-term patient survival.
If you don’t have a dentist in mind, you can always ask your physician for a referral. Tell your doctor that you’ve found out more about how dental health affects overall health and you want to improve your well-being.
Why Is Dental Health Important?
As mentioned above, going to a general dentist can be a good way to ward off serious problems like cancers or systemic issues related to oral problems. Yet there are far more reasons to schedule a time to see a dentist.
What are some of the benefits of taking general dentistry seriously? First, you’ll feel better about the way your gums and teeth look. Having an appealing smile can improve your confidence level and help you more easily interact in social situations.
You’ll also be less likely to lose your natural teeth if you’re going to a dentist. A dentist will be able to give you suggestions to hold onto your teeth for as long as possible. Though there are many substitutes for lost and missing teeth, nothing compares to keeping the ones that grew in during your childhood.
What’s a final reason to get your dentist onto your calendar? How about that you could work with your dentist on issues that you might never think of, such as TMJ disorder or sleep apnea. Yes, dentists do much more than just polishing your teeth or taking images!
Understanding the Basic Preventive Dental Care Visit
By now, you’re probably getting a much broader picture of how dental health affects overall health. Hopefully, you’re just about ready to schedule an appointment by calling your dentist or visiting the dentist’s site online and setting up your next cleaning.
If it’s been a while since you’ve been to a dentist, you may want a refresher on what to expect. When you come in, you may have to fill out some paperwork. The paperwork likely will include information about your medical health history. Be honest. The more you tell your dentist, the better. And if you smoke or use other tobacco products, let the dentist know.
When you go back into an exam room, a hygienist will probably take a look at your teeth. You may also be asked if the dentist can get diagnostics including x-rays. Those types of diagnostic tools are essential and don’t tend to cost a ton. Plus, most dentists use very little radiation to get images, so you won’t have to worry about exposure.
After getting diagnostics, the hygienist will scrape the tartar and plaque off your teeth either by hand with a metal scraper or using an advanced tool. From that point, the hygienist will floss and brush your teeth.
The dentist usually comes in after the cleaning to talk about any concerns. Your discussion may also include more information on how dental health affects overall health, especially if your dentist suggests quitting smoking or changing some other aspect of your lifestyle. Again, this is your chance to have a good heart-to-heart with the dentist. You’re not getting in trouble if you haven’t been flossing or brushing diligently. You’re just getting the benefit of hearing from a dental expert who wants to help you get and stay your healthiest.
At the end of your visit, you’ll probably be asked to pay for the examination and set up your next cleaning. It’s a good idea to follow through then and there, putting the date on your calendar immediately. That way, it’ll be set in stone.
What to Do If You Have Chronic Problems?
Are you wondering what occurs if your dentist realizes you have a budding problem like a loose tooth, gingivitis, or gum recession during your visit? The dentist will alert you to the concern and tell you about your options. This allows you to make an informed decision about how to move forward.
For example, let’s say that your dentist realizes that a dental crown that was placed on one of your molars a decade ago has begun to fail. The dentist may want to find out if you’re open to having it replaced so the tooth isn’t more susceptible to decay. Some dentists can treat this kind of issue onsite by milling their own dental crowns. Others may require that you make a separate appointment because they need to have crowns made by someone else and shipped to them.
Of course, if you think or know you have a chronic dental problem, you should feel free to bring it up with your dental provider. The more open you are, the better you’ll feel when you leave.
How to Make Your Smile Beautiful
Many people wish that they had beautiful smiles. Even if you’re an adult in your senior years, you shouldn’t hesitate to talk with your dentist about cosmetic dentistry options. The world of cosmetic dentistry is quite exciting at the moment, and patients have tons of opportunities to get more attractive, functional smiles.
You may want to consider orthodontics, perhaps. Clear braces are very popular. Plus, they contribute to how dental health affects overall health. How? Braces put your teeth back into a more normal, neutral alignment. This puts less stress on your jaw and reduces your chances of developing areas of decay between crowded teeth.
Another type of cosmetic dentistry that’s commonly offered at dentists is teeth whitening. A dentist will use special lightening products that work quickly and don’t lead to intensive tooth sensitivity like some over-the-counter strips and gels.
Need to fill in a missing tooth? You may want to consider restorative bridges or permanent dental implants. In the past couple of decades, implant dentistry has arisen as a safe, effective way to replace lost teeth. Implants look so much like real teeth that you may forget that you have one in your mouth. Though the process to get an implant can be expensive and probably won’t be covered by dental insurance, you’ll appreciate the results.
Keeping a Consistent Routine of Dental Care
Once you’ve embraced how dental health affects overall health, you’ll need to commit to a consistent oral hygiene care routine. For starters, your dental care should involve brushing and flossing at least twice a day, if not a third time after lunches and sticky, sugary snacks. If you’re not sure how to properly floss, ask your hygienist to teach you during your next teeth cleaning session. And if you find that some floss sticks between crowded teeth, you may want to pick up waxed floss instead of unwaxed versions.
What else can you do to showcase your new-found knowledge of how dental health affects overall health? Some teens and adults like using Waterpik-style tooth cleaners because they feel they work better. You don’t have to purchase expensive products like those, of course, but if they help you get a deeper clean, they’re a good idea.
A final ingredient to your dental care regimen is to keep up with all your appointments. Hold them as sacred and try not to reschedule them. Unless you have a condition like periodontitis, you’ll probably only need to see your dentist once every six months or so.
Oh, and don’t forget to always contact your dentist in case of emergencies. The faster you alert your dentist to a problem, the faster the dentist can help you make smart health decisions.
Starting Kids Young When It Comes to Dental Care
You’ve probably started to tell your children how dental health affects overall health. And they’re probably learning even more about how dental health affects overall health in school. Nevertheless, don’t wait for them to get older to take them to the dentist.
Kids as young as toddler age can benefit from visiting a dentist who specializes in child health care. This type of dentist may advertise as a pediatric dentist or just a family dentist. Usually, your child’s first few visits won’t include cleanings. The dentist may just count the child’s teeth and get the child accustomed to being at a dental office.
Being introduced to a dentist in a positive way at an early age helps kids avoid the development of dental fear later in life. Additionally, they tend to be very comfortable taking care of their dental health and making it a priority.
Not sure your child will sit still for the dentist? Have a kid who refuses to go to the dentist because they’ve heard it hurts? Instead of getting mad, why not try using a little parenting coercion to sweeten the deal? For instance, you could promise to order takeout dinner from your child’s favorite restaurant after they go to the dentist. Yes, it’s a bit of a bribe. However, it has a purpose: Getting your child to understand how dental health affects overall health in a hands-on, low-key, fun way.
The Bottom Line on Dental Health
Above all else, you deserve to be healthy inside and out. And that includes having strong teeth, pliable gums and a smile that makes you memorable to everyone you meet. So stop stalling and pick up the phone to call your dentist. You’ll be glad you did.
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