Did you know your dental health impacts your overall health and well-being? The condition of your teeth and gums can be linked to cardiovascular function and certain diseases and medical conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis. Even periodontitis, an infection of the gums, can affect a woman’s healthy pregnancy.
Because your dental health is so critical to your overall health, your dentist can be a great partner, ally, and source of knowledge for you to feel your healthiest and best.
If you’re ready to talk to your dentist about how you can feel your best and get the most out of your care, but aren’t sure where to begin, use these 5 proactive questions to get the conversation started:
1. What can I expect from my visit today? Whether you are at the dentist for a consultation, a cleaning, or a procedure, start the conversation by setting expectations and learning as much as you can about the nature of the care you will be receiving. As the Boy Scouts say -- always be prepared!
2. What can I do daily for healthy teeth and gums? Your dentist will likely have some advice for you after doing a thorough exam of your teeth, gums, and mouth. Without doing a thorough oral exam, certainly most dentists would still recommend brushing your teeth after meals, flossing regularly, keeping sugary snacks to a minimum, and changing out your toothbrush three to four times a year.
3. What will you do to support my dental health? Creating a plan that you and your dental practitioner agree on together is important to your long-term health. Your dentist may recommend something as basic as regular cleanings or fluoride rinses. Alternatively, s/he may have specific advice to help you, or offer a certain procedure or product that could benefit you uniquely--like mouth trays to prevent snoring or gum therapy to treat and prevent disease. You never know all your options until you ask! Let your dentist know you’re serious about your dental health, and hold them accountable for their role in the success of your smile.
4. How will you assess my unique dental health risks? Dentists have many tools to guide the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a wide array of conditions and diseases. If you have a specific concern about your dental health, tell your dentist. If you are experiencing pain, make sure to bring that up. Give your dentist all the information so s/he can help you stay ahead of potential risks, and feel your healthiest.
5. Does diet affect my dental health? The short answer is “yes.” While foods are not directly or solely responsible for the state of your teeth and gums, poor eating habits can exacerbate certain dental conditions--and not properly cleaning your teeth just compounds the problem more. Additionally, caffeine is known to deplete reserved calcium; sugary foods can put you at a higher risk for cavities; and poor nutrition in general opens you up to the risk of a higher number of dental and health issues.