Prevention is always better than letting a problem develop and then having to seek a cure. This old adage rings true in relation to oral health care as it does in many other aspects of life. Prevention is best maintained by the patient establishing a good relationship with the dentist and the rest of the dental team and visiting the practice on a periodic basis.
INITIAL ORAL HEALTH CHECK-UP:
The initial check-up is when the dentist will be keen to assess your previous experience of dental treatment and the present condition of your oral health. You will have plenty of time to discuss your previous experiences and how these may have impacted on your oral health and your view of dental treatment. The dentist will have plenty of questions concerning your past and present oral health and may at this point take x-rays in order to gain a more complete view of the structure of the teeth. This initial meeting may identify concerns which need addressing and if this is the case the dentist will explain the treatment options to you and a treatment plan will be devised.
THE EXAMINATION WILL INVOLVE;
An initial discussion with the dentist to ascertain your present oral hygiene.
Check how your teeth meet together known as the bite or occlusion. A poor bite can lead to chipped or damaged teeth and this will need addressing by the dentist.
Check that the patient is not grinding (bruxing) there teeth.
Look at the previous restorations the patient may have had carried out such as fillings, crowns, bridges or veneers. The condition and functionality of these restorations will need to be assessed by the dentist as there suitability can change over time.
Check the health of the patient’s gums and look for any underlying signs of gum, periodontal disease.
Check for any signs of dental decay and if necessary take x-rays to establish a more complete view of these.
Carry out soft tissue screening which will involve both extra and intra oral elements. The extra oral element will look for any abnormalities in the face and neck with reference to lymph nodes etc. The intra oral element will include a visual check of the patients tongue cheeks and other soft tissues. The dentists will be keen to check for any signs of oral cancer. This cancer is rare but like other cancers can be more successfully dealt with if it is caught early.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REGULAR CHECK-UPS;
Many of these components of the initial check-up go on to form the basis of the periodic check-up. Regular check-ups can be the best way to monitor your own oral health practices and alert you to any issues which may need addressing by the dental team.
REGULAR CHECK-UPS AND SCALING ARE A GOOD IDEA BECAUSE;
They will alert you to any problems that may have developed in relation to the teeth or soft tissues. These can then be assessed by the dental team and then present you with possible treatment options. The dentist is able to detect potential oral cancers which if caught early are highly curable.
Regular scaling will prevent the build up of plaque, clean teeth and gums are more likely to remain healthy. Studies have shown that bad breath is particularly prevalent in those who do not visit there dentist on a regular basis.
Regular check-ups enable the patient to meet the dentist and prioritise their oral health care. The dentist can advise on changes to your own care routine which could prevent future dental intervention.
HOW REGULAR SHOULD CHECK-UPS BE?
There is no hard and fast rule here the most important factor is that check-ups should be regular. Patients may choose to attend once every six months, once a year or at some other interval. In terms of detecting the onset of changes to teeth or soft tissues, six monthly visits may be most advisable. Patients who experience pain or discomfort or who require regular periodontal work may need to attend at intervals shorter than six months. Patients who have a high use of alcohol or tobacco,who are pregnant or who have certain medical conditions such as diabetes will also need to attend on a frequent basis. This is because these conditions can leave them more susceptible to cavities, gum disease and oral cancer.