A Checklist for Your Next Dental Checkup

When it comes to visits with various healthcare providers, you may experience the situation in which you think of things to mention or ask about only after leaving the appointment.  Having a checklist can be helpful in preventing those #facepalm moments.  Below are the things that we recommend you check through at your next dental checkup.

Tell Us about Any Health Changes

We will ask you about this, but it can be helpful to know the question is coming so that you can prepare.  Many people do not know the names of new medications off the top of their heads.  If there are any specific changes that occur between your dental visits, make a note of anything new so that you can inform us when you have an appointment.

Updating medical history is an essential part of great healthcare.  Your mouth is the gateway to your entire body, and its health affects the body as well as vice versa.  Medications can have side effects that affect your dental health.  Certain nutritional deficiencies and autoimmune disorders cause visible changes inside the mouth.  Make sure you tell us about any changes including:

  • Medications – It is essential that we have an accurate list of any medications you are currently taking, both prescription and over-the-counter. Not only can these meds affect your oral health.  They can interact with medications we might prescribe!
  • New Health Conditions Diagnosed – Many people believe the myth that your health has nothing to do with your teeth. Science is showing ever more clearly that oral health and systemic health are closely linked.  You may have a health condition that affects the success of a dental treatment, and your dentist needs to know that in order to plan and treat you properly.

Ask Your Dental Hygienist for Oral Hygiene Tips

Your dental hygienist is in the best position for evaluating the effectiveness of your home care.  Your oral hygiene routine at home should include brushing and flossing both consistently and effectively.  It is possible to brush and floss consistently, but in an ineffective manner that leaves bacteria on the teeth.  The dental hygienist will remove any areas of bacterial buildup present, and she will also show you how you can clean those areas more effectively.

  • Areas You’re Missing – Often, there are areas of the mouth that people miss when brushing and flossing. When you miss a surface of a tooth during oral hygiene, the plaque in that spot accumulates to a larger extent and hardens into tartar (also called calculus).  Your hygienist can show you these areas and give you tips on cleaning them.
  • Accessories that Might Help You Clean Better – There are some cases of poor plaque removal in which accessories outside the traditional toothbrush and floss can greatly help. For instance, people with large “black triangles” (small gaps between the teeth and gums that collect food buildup) can use small pipe-cleaner type brushes called interdental brushes.  Those who have problems manipulating traditional floss may use a threaded floss pick.  Your hygienist will know which accessory is best for you.

Tell Us any Changes You’ve Noticed in Your Oral Health

Has something changed in your teeth and/or gums?  It is important that you share with your hygienist and dentist any changes you’ve noted since your last visit.  This might include areas that seem sensitive to cold or sweets, bleeding gums, popping or clicking in the jaw joints, etc…. Even if the issue seemed to be temporary and resolved itself, it is important for us to document and investigate it.

Ask Your Dentist and Your Hygienist if They Notice any Changes

This is one great advantage of seeing the same dental hygienist and dentist for years.  We get to know not only you and your personality; we know your mouth.  This enables us to recognize changes in your oral health.  We quickly identify new risk factors or warning signs of impending dental problems.

Ask about Risk Factors and Preventive Options

When your hygienist and dentist do notice changes in your oral health, they will discuss them with you.  We identify these risk factors so that we can take preventive action and prevent full-blown dental diseases like cavities and periodontal disease.

Dental risk factors are unique to each person.  Not everyone is at risk for cavities.  Some have very strong enamel with a minimal risk for cavities, but they have a high risk for inflammation and gum disease.  The preventive steps are unique for each disease, so knowing what your risk levels are allows you to take the right preventive steps.

Dr. Chowning will discuss various risk factors with you and explain which preventive dental treatments will lower those risks.  People with a high risk for cracked teeth due to heavy nighttime clenching should wear a protective nightguard.  Those with a high risk for cavities should opt for a professional fluoride application after their teeth cleanings.  Patients with gum disease risk may need more frequent professional cleanings with the hygienist.

When you know your risk, you can make better decisions and take better care of your oral health between visits.

More Questions about Your Next Checkup?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 to speak with our dental team.  We can answer questions about what you can expect at your checkup visit with our dental hygienists and Dr. Chowning.





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