How do you feel about going to the dentist? Do you go routinely, or only when you have a problem? Chances are, if you go routinely, you don’t have that many dental problems. Having regular checkups, and following the advice of your dentist is a good way to prevent tooth and gum disease, and to maintain that healthy and beautiful smile. And, if you share your enthusiasm for good oral care with your kids, you’re setting them on the road for oral success. When you have someone that you consider “your dentist” – someone who you see routinely, and who advises you on how to keep your mouth and gums healthy – you have what is called a dental home. Having a family dentist is an excellent and reliable way to good oral health. If you don’t have a family dentist, there are a few things you might not know unless you have one. Once you hear them, you’ll probably want a family dentist of your own.
Prevention is the Key to Success
Most dental emergencies are the result of neglect, and a lot of dental disease can be avoided by proper dental care and good habits. Having a family dentist is a great first step in reducing the need for time-consuming, uncomfortable, or costly restorative dental care. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that everyone should see their dentist for a cleaning and check-up every six months – and more frequently if you have problems with your teeth or gums. At that appointment, you will be examined for tooth and gum disease, and may also have X-rays done that can identify problems that are not visible to the eye. The earlier these things are found and treated, the better your chances of saving your teeth and avoiding more extensive treatment.
Your family dentist will also give you great advice on how to keep your mouth healthy, and your teeth strong and beautiful. In addition to their cleanings, patients who have family dentists know that you should brush twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, but to not be too rough or they can damage their gums. Everyone should also be flossing twice daily. And the saying “you are what you eat” is pertinent to your mouth, as well as the rest of your body. Sugary foods and drinks are things to be avoided. They set up a great place for the bacteria that cause decay to move in. Gooey, sugary foods and gum are the worst because they not only adhere to your teeth, depositing sugar everywhere, but if you have any dental work in your mouth, you will probably pull out a crown or a filling. These patients also know to avoid foods and drinks that are not good for their teeth, like carbonated beverages, or that stain their teeth, like coffee, tea, or red wine.
When You Have an Emergency
Who do you call when you have an emergency? Dental emergencies are generally accompanied by pain, so it is not something that most people are willing to put off. Do you feel comfortable seeing a stranger, or would you rather see someone you know and trust? While patients who have family dentists that they see routinely have fewer problems, emergencies from either disease or trauma can still arise. Even if the pain were not enough to send them to the dentist, there are symptoms such as fever, swelling, and drainage that should never be ignored. One of the most important things in all of healthcare that contributes to good outcomes is continuity. Patients of family dentists have a known and trusted ally in their dental health. A family dentist is fully aware of not only your dental history, but your overall health history as well. This means that when someone goes to their family dentist with a problem, they will get the most appropriate treatment for their unique set of circumstances. This is not only a comfort, but also an invaluable way to achieve the best oral health possible for you.
It’s Not Just About Your Mouth
Everyone wants a beautiful smile. It goes a long way in giving you the confidence and self-esteem you need for success in life. But oral health is not just about your mouth. What goes on with your gums and teeth can affect the rest of your body. If you have pain or have weak and missing teeth, it is harder for you to eat the fruits, vegetables, and proteins that are part of a healthy diet. This, in turn, affects your overall health, making you more prone to illness and infection. Your family dentist wants to make sure you have good oral hygiene. Without it, you are at risk of rising levels of bacteria in your mouth that can cause decay, inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), and even chronic inflammation and infection. These bacteria can spread to cause infections in nearby structures like your sinuses, jawbone, skull, back of the throat, or your brain. They can also get into your blood, where they can travel to cause problems with your joints and your heart. So, dental disease can cause very grave illness. People who have a family dentist are more likely to be aware of the dangers of poor oral hygiene, and to be actively involved in the habits that are good for their teeth and gums.
Start Them Young
The ADA recommends that children have their first dental checkup within 6 months of their first tooth coming in, and no later than their first birthday. Patients who have a family dentist understand the importance of instilling healthy behaviors at an early age. During these first few visits, your child will become comfortable with the dentist, learning to trust them so they will not be afraid as they get older. This is also a good time to start developing lifelong habits, like twice daily brushing and flossing, and avoiding sugary treats. Your family dentist can also recommend fluoride and other treatments that will protect your child’s developing mouth. He or she will advise you on what to expect as your child grows older, how to care for baby and permanent teeth, and when or if they will need braces. The bottom line is that children who have a family dentist and receive routine exams from an early age are less likely to have cavities, or to need extractions, root canals or crowns.
If you have questions about the services a family dentist can provide or have any problems with your mouth that you would like to address, please call Hagerman Dental Care at (651) 646-2392, or request an appointment online. Helping you and your family maintain a healthy and beautiful smile is our greatest concern.