Recently I read somewhere that when a person meets you for the first time they instinctively seek a focal point on your face – either your eyes or your teeth. In a way, they are subconsciously making a judgement about you based on your appearance. Your eyes may be a “window of your soul”, as one saying goes; but according to another saying, “A smile is a light in the window of the soul indicating that the heart is at home.”*
Your teeth and mouth play an important role in the way you present yourself to the world and hence in your self-confidence. They also have an important part in everyday functions such as eating and speaking and hence in your overall health.
There’s not much a dentist can do for those of us with less-than-dazzling eyes. But when it comes to enhancing the health and appearance of your teeth and mouth, your dentist is the one to see.
As a hygienist I am often the first port of call for new clients visiting Smile Solutions.
All too often these clients tell me that they usually only visit the dentist when they are in pain. But your most common reason to visit the dentist should be to have a checkup. Why?
During a checkup, your dentist will complete a comprehensive examination of your mouth to identify areas with potential to become painful or problematic. Routine radiographs may be taken in the examination to aid in diagnosis. A treatment plan can then be put in place to address these areas. Intervention may range from replacing old leaking fillings to providing instruction and advice on diet and oral health.
Also, early diagnosis and management of a dental problem before it creates discomfort are often a more cost effective and less painful solution and lead to a better prognosis and outcome.
Those of you from my grandparents’ era may remember that dentists used to routinely remove all of a patient’s teeth and fit a full denture to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If you didn’t have any teeth you couldn’t get tooth decay! While this approach may have been acceptable back in the 1930s, these days prevention of oral diseases need not be so drastic.
With the advancement of research and oral health practices, the focus has shifted to prevention in the form of preservation. Now, prevention, not pain, should be your incentive to attend the dentist and hygienist.
Patients also frequently ask me “How often do I need a checkup?” The general consensus among practising dentists and hygienists is that six months is the appropriate length of time between checkups and hygiene scale-and-clean appointments. In some circumstances – based on an individual patient’s risk for oral disease – a more frequent checkup is required to monitor and maintain oral health.
Regular checkups allow a healthy environment to be achieved and maintained in your mouth. These checkups give the dentist or hygienist the opportunity to examine you for the presence of the two main oral diseases – tooth decay or gum disease – both of which are mostly preventable; and even to complete a soft tissue screen for the presence of less common diseases such as oral cancer, which may be easily treated if detected early.
As oral health educators, we dental hygienists have a professional responsibility to challenge the common misconception that oral diseases are an inevitable part of aging or just a part of life that must be tolerated and to equip our clients with the knowledge and tools to prevent them.
At Smile Solutions we enjoy seeing our clients at their regular twice-yearly checkups. We strive to work with you towards achieving and maintaining a healthy, functional and aesthetically pleasing smile.
*Christian D. Larson, influential early New Thought leader