Confess: Before you have a dental appointment, you vigorously floss your teeth the night before, even if you haven’t been flossing them regularly. (We hate to break it to you, but the dentist knows about your secret.) Some even brush before the cleaning appointment, determined to make a good impression. The appointment date and time is dutifully marked in the calendar and time is taken off from work. But there’s one thing you’re overlooking: A list of questions to ask your dentist. Don’t see your regular cleaning as just a cleaning. Use this as an opportunity to ask your dentist about how you can keep your mouth healthy year round. Need help getting started? Following are three questions that are a must.
1. Is my mouth healthy?
A healthy mouth is so much more than a great smile. Many researchers believe it can have an influence on other areas of your health, such as your heart. This is also a good time to review the medications you’re taking with your dentist. Some medicines cause dry mouth, which increases your chances of cavities. Your dentist will be able to recommend specialized mouthwashes or toothpastes to help you. The hygienist should also do a brief check for mouth cancer. If you have concerns about your risk for mouth cancer (particularly if you use tobacco products), please discuss this with your dentist. Remember, your dentist is a wonderful—but often underused—resource of health information.
2. Could you prioritize any procedures that I need to have done?
If you haven't been for a regular dental check-up in a long while, there's a good chance there may be a long list of things that need to be done, from filling cavities to root canals. Your dentist will help you prioritize the procedures and give you an idea of how long they might take. This is also a good time to review which procedures will be covered by your insurance. Most dental practices will be able to give you a ballpark estimate of how much something will cost, and the practice’s financial office will work with you to schedule a payment plan if services are not covered by insurance.
3. What foods can I avoid to improve my dental health?
While it's no surprise that sugary snacks wreak havoc on your teeth, did you know that even healthy foods can cause problems? Apples and carrots can crack fragile teeth, and citrus fruits and acidic vegetables wear away enamel. Dentists are quick to point out that the benefits of these healthy foods outweigh the problems they can cause with your teeth. So what should you do? Continue to eat healthy foods but be sure to brush and floss after eating them. Your cleaning is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge your dental professionals have to offer. If you’d like a list of more questions to ask, you can find them here.
Sources: American Heart Association. Dental Health and Heart Health. Drummond, Katie. 25 Foods Dentists Won’t Eat. Prevention Magazine. Jan. 31, 2013. Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives. Questions to Ask Your Dentist.