A dental check up…It's not a pit stop

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under

It is very interesting to me that for some people, setting up an appointment for dental treatment is synonymous with ordering a pizza. They want it quick and easy and many times don't really care about how good it is, since after all, it's only a pizza. Consider the person who had not seen the inside of a dental office for many years. I'll call him Mr. Jones.

Upon calling the office for an appointment, Jones explains that his last check-up and cleaning were done "awhile ago." He's calling because he would like to have his teeth cleaned as soon as possible. His teeth do not bother him, he says, except for the food that keeps getting stuck in a big hole in the back somewhere. Jones says he tries to keep up with brushing most days, and if it were not for the persistent nagging of his wife about his bad breath, he would not have called at all. He would have waited until something really started to bother him.

What is interesting about Jones is that he recently bought himself the sports car of his dreams. A real beauty. He washes it religiously every weekend, wouldn't think of putting anything less than premium gas into it and has the oil and filter changed every 3,000 miles without exception.

When it comes to his dental health, however, it's a different story; Jones thinks sporadic dental office visits ought to be sufficient. He wants someone to give a quick look-see, and then give a quick buff and shine to his teeth. These are the very teeth, which unlike his car, get used all day, everyday of his life. The teeth, that if lost, would be sorely missed.

The receptionist asks what type of cleaning Jones needs. Does he need a simple above the gum prophylaxis or polishing? Or, perhaps the two to four longer visits with the hygienist for quadrant scaling and root planing to take off the years of tartar deposits that have covered Jones teeth and gone below the gumline, now causing him periodontal disease.

Jones is taken back. He now has to stop and think about something he has never really thought about before. Unlike the careful thought he gives to the car that he probably will trade in for the latest model in several years, the question of his teeth is disconcerting.

The question about the kind of cleaning he needs will hopefully get him thinking about his teeth and their proper care. Unlike his car, his teeth are the only ones he will get. A change in attitude about them is called for.

When a patient comes in for hygiene or "recare" appointment as it is now called it is not like he is bringing his car into a quick-lube garage. A lot of thought and skill goes into the appointment.

Here are some of the services performed by the dentist; all good reasons for continued routine dental treatment.

Your dentist should:

  1. Review medical history and modify treatment as needed.
  2. Perform a blood pressure screening. Many times the dentist sees the patient more than the physician, so a problem might be detected sooner.
  3. Perform oral cancer screening.
  4. Screen for periodontal disease.
  5. Perform cavity and tumor detecting x-rays.
  6. Examine existing fillings and detect new cavities.
  7. Evaluate your bite and the consequences of missing or crossed teeth.
  8. Re-check fit of dentures.
  9. Remove tartar, plaque and stain.
  10. Provide fluoride treatment and other medicaments.
  11. Plan treatment for your present and future dental needs.
  12. Evaluate total dental needs and make referral to a specialist if needed.
  13. Talk to you about cutting edge dental technology and treatment available.

The old adage "floss only those teeth you want to keep" holds truth. So much is known today about dental disease and how to control or eliminate it. A person owes it to himself or herself to take care of his teeth properly. The next item you seek out the services of a dentist or hygienist, or you receive your reminder card that says it is time again for the dentist to see you, be assured the dentist is there to help. Use your dental professional as a resource. Ask questions about your mouth and problems that your are experiencing.

For dentists, a patient with a beautiful smile and a healthy mouth is what it's all about.

If your dentist doesn't answer your questions to your liking or doesn't seem to really care, it's time to find a new one. Healthy teeth are part of the equation for good quality of life. The dental profession is trying very hard to educate people that their teeth can very easily last a lifetime, if cared for properly.

November 10, 2010 05:29

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November 12, 2010 21:27

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