Been Awhile Since You've Been to the Dentist?


Quick…when was the last time you went to the dentist?  If you’re already on a regular active maintenance schedule, then you probably have a general idea as to when it was over the last 6 months or so.  Having a hard time remembering for sure?  Are you having to pinpoint it with the use of milestones, such as “well, it was the year we took the vacation to Florida”, or “I’m sure it was the year that Jimmy graduated, because I wanted my teeth nice and clean for the family pictures”?  Was that several years ago, perhaps 5, 10, or more? 

Rest assured that you’re not alone, your dentist is here to help, and is not here to judge.  Repeat- not here to judge!  Time goes so quickly—believe us, we understand!  Other things come up, other things take priority.  But, making a commitment to your oral health with regular active maintenance checkups and cleanings will help ensure that your mouth and teeth are in tip-top shape so that you can focus on and be ready for whatever life sends your way.  And, this “commitment” we’re talking about is pretty minimal, all things considered—a few hours over the course of the entire year?  Doesn’t sound so daunting now, does it?
So, what’s the big deal about establishing an active maintenance routine?  There is a direct correlation between oral health and overall health of the body.  The infection associated with gum disease (periodontal infection) can spread to other parts of the body…and has been associated with such issues as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and pre-term labor.  Treating areas of decay and existing restorations that aren’t performing as well as they’re supposed to be anymore is a key part of the equation for attaining a healthy mouth as well.  And, keeping gums and tissues healthy can help to keep the whole body healthier.
Another reason to go back to the dentist—a lot may have changed in terms of the treatment types available!  Dentistry is a constantly evolving field…select dentists are diligent about attending advanced continuing education courses with their team to be able to offer the best that dentistry has to offer.  Besides the myriad of general and cosmetic dental services available, some are able to treat patients with sleep apnea and/or CPAP intolerance, and TMD/TMJ issues, such as migraines and neck/back pain.
For some, dental anxiety has kept them away from the dentist…it could be the sound of the instruments, the numbing process, the cost of dentistry itself—rest assured, all of these are completely normal.  Your dental team should go above and beyond to ensure that patients are comfortable throughout their appointments.  Some have music playing in all of the active maintenance and treatment rooms, and some patients even bring in their own iPods for appointments.  It's not uncommon to hear from many previously-nervous patients that they “didn’t even feel a thing” during the numbing process, thanks to the expertise and experience of the team.  Some offices even have pillows and blankets available for those wanting to cozy up a bit during their appointment.  Patients have a variety of payment options so that they can choose what works best for them—some patients elect to utilize CareCredit and CitiHealth, which have interest-free payment plans available at some offices.
Ready to take the next step, but not sure where to start?  The first step is to contact the dental office to set up an appointment.  Along with a comprehensive examination, intraoral photos, and digital x-rays, they'll let you know what’s “going on” in your mouth, and provide information regarding available treatments.  The best thing?  It’s your mouth, and you get to choose how to proceed—a great dentist will want you to be aware of all of the options and possible outcomes with whatever you choose.

Article by
Columbia Dentist