Dental Care and Dentist Visits

Dental care supports good overall health. Regular dental visits can also help you avoid dental pain, bleeding, infection, and other more serious health problems in the future. It is important to keep the mouth healthy because diseases in the teeth, gums, and other oral tissues can spread to other areas of the body. Some problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and pre-term labor have been associated with poor oral health.

See your dentist every 6 months. If you experience emergency problems such as a toothache or broken tooth, go to the dentist right away. If you see your dentist regularly, you may catch problems early. It is easier to be treated for problems in the early stages.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT A DENTIST VISIT

Your dentist will look for many common oral health problems and recommend proper treatment. At your regular dental visit, you can expect:

  • Gentle cleaning of the teeth and gums. This includes scraping and polishing. This helps to remove the sticky substance around the teeth and gums (plaque). Plaque forms in the mouth shortly after eating. Over time, plaque hardens on the teeth as tartar. If tartar is not removed regularly, it can cause problems. Cleaning also helps remove stains.

  • Periodic X-rays. These pictures of the teeth and supporting bone will help your dentist assess the health of your teeth.

  • Periodic fluoride treatments. Fluoride is a natural mineral shown to help strengthen teeth. Fluoride treatment involves applying a fluoride gel or varnish to the teeth. It is most commonly done in children.

  • Examination of the mouth, tongue, jaws, teeth, and gums to look for any oral health problems, such as:

  • Cavities (dental caries). This is decay on the tooth caused by plaque, sugar, and acid in the mouth. It is best to catch a cavity when it is small.

  • Inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup (gingivitis).

  • Problems with the mouth or malformed or misaligned teeth.

  • Oral cancer or other diseases of the soft tissues or jaws. 

KEEP YOUR TEETH AND GUMS HEALTHY

For healthy teeth and gums, follow these general guidelines as well as your dentist's specific advice:

  • Have your teeth professionally cleaned at the dentist every 6 months.

  • Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste.

  • Floss your teeth daily. 

  • Ask your dentist if you need fluoride supplements, treatments, or fluoride toothpaste.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Reduce foods and drinks with added sugar.

  • Avoid smoking.

TREATMENT FOR ORAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

If you have oral health problems, treatment varies depending on the conditions present in your teeth and gums.

  • Your caregiver will most likely recommend good oral hygiene at each visit.

  • For cavities, gingivitis, or other oral health disease, your caregiver will perform a procedure to treat the problem. This is typically done at a separate appointment. Sometimes your caregiver will refer you to another dental specialist for specific tooth problems or for surgery.

SEEK IMMEDIATE DENTAL CARE IF:

  • You have pain, bleeding, or soreness in the gum, tooth, jaw, or mouth area.

  • A permanent tooth becomes loose or separated from the gum socket.

  • You experience a blow or injury to the mouth or jaw area.