1. It’s been a year or more since you’ve had a full Check-up and Cleaning
- Regular checkups allow the dentist to find cavities while they are small, fixing them now will be less invasive and less expensive. Cavities are not always symptomatic, often by the time there is discomfort the decay has already progressed significantly. Catching decay early helps avoid pain, abscesses, root canals and extractions. Your dentist is also looking for other indicators of dental and overall health during your appointment. Some examples are wear, erosion, abrasion, clenching, grinding, acid reflux, diabetes, and cancer. This is also the perfect time to bring up any concerns you may have such as bad breath, crooked teeth, sensitivity or whitening.
- Regular Cleanings help keep your gums and mouth healthy, which is important for your overall health. The removal of calculus by the hygienist is important because it cannot be removed with a toothbrush, it needs to be removed with special instruments. When calculus is present on the teeth the body sees it as a foreign object that it needs to destroy. This is why your gums become red and puffy and bleed easily. If this state becomes chronic the body starts to attack the bone that is holding the teeth in place. This attack often leads to bone loss known as Periodontal disease. When Periodontal disease is left to progress, tooth loss is inevitable and is the most common reason people loose their teeth. Periodontal disease cannot be fixed, but it’s progression can be stopped.
2. You have Pain
- Any sort of pain in the mouth or jaw is a good reason to see the dentist.
- If you have pain or swelling in the face, neck or mouth, your tooth is aching on it’s own and / or is keeping you up at night, it is important to see a dentist immediately. These are indicators of infection, and should be dealt with before they get worse or spread.
3. You have Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, An Eating Disorder, or are undergoing medical treatment such as Chemotherapy or Radiation
- Diabetes: If you have Diabetes, especially uncontrolled Diabetes you are more likely to develop or have more severe periodontal disease. It also goes the other way; if you have Periodontal disease it can worsen your Diabetes by making your blood sugar more difficult to control. Individuals with Diabetes often have gingivitis or gums that bleed easily, even if they don't develop Periodontal disease, regular hygiene appointments are essential in maintaining overall health.
- Cardiovascular disease: Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. While a cause and effect relationship has not yet been established it is believed that periodontal disease increases your risk of cardiovascular disease because of the inflammation that is present.
- Eating disorders: Lack of vitamins from poor nutrition may adversely affect oral health, as well as overall health Disorders that include vomiting may cause the salivary glands to become enlarged, lesions on the soft tissues that bleed easily, dry-mouth and erode the teeth. Teeth may change in colour, shape and length and be sensitive to cold and hot, and be more susceptive to decay. These symptoms can be addressed by the dentist.
- Chemotherapy or Radiation: It is best to have a full check up and cleaning, and restore any teeth before undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment to minimize infection. These treatments can also cause Dry-mouth, which can lead to rampant decay. It is important to see your dentist regularly during and after treatment to avoid complications.
4. You are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
- Dental visits are safe and recommended when you are pregnant, preferably in the second trimester for routine care. X-rays are also safe, but will only be taken if there is a specific concern that needs to be addressed, so it is best to have a full exam and cleaning before you become pregnant. This will also give you the opportunity to treat any decay or other issues, so you don't need to during the pregnancy. If you are already pregnant and have decay it is recommended that you treat it to decrease the chance of infection and other complications.
- While pregnant, some women experience swelling of the gums due to the increase in hormones, about 10% may develop a 'pregnancy tumour', which is an extreme inflammatory reaction to an irritant which will usually go away after giving birth. Dental cleanings and meticulous home-care can minimize or prevent pregnancy gingivitis and pregnancy 'tumours'. Another reason to maintain your oral care while pregnant is that Periodontal disease has been linked to low birth weight and pre-term births.
- Looking forward it has been found that good oral practices of the parent are essential for good oral hygiene of the child. Studies have shown that it is oral health behaviours of the parents and not attitudes that produce good oral health behaviours in children. Establishing a good oral routine for yourself and your spouse will help ensure that your child develops one as well. The Dentist and Dental Hygienist can help you answer any questions you have on what to expect and how to care for each stage in your child’s development.
5. You don’t like the way your smile looks
- You don't have to live with a smile you don't like! Modern dentistry can fix just about anything. If you don't like the way your smile looks and especially if you try to hide your smile, or don’t smile for photos, it is time to see the dentist.
- Teeth are one of the top things people notice when they first meet you, and can make a huge difference to how young and healthy you look. Your Dentist will give you options to improve your smile, and refer you to a specialist if needed.
6.Your gums are puffy, sore, and/ or bleed when you brush or floss
- If your gums bleed when you brush, you have gingivitis, or worse periodontitis. Gingivitis while not very attractive is completely reversible with proper care. Periodontitis means you have already lost some of the bone holding your teeth in place and if left to progress you will lose those teeth. Once you have lost bone, you cannot grow it back, but the progress can be arrested with proper care and maintenance appointments.
7. You’ve had fillings, dentures, crowns, bridges, implants, or extractions in the past.
- A history of tooth decay means you are more likely to experience decay again. Along with this, dental work is never as good as a natural tooth and needs more regular maintenance. Dental work does not last forever and restorations each have a life expectancy. The better care you take of them, the longer they will last.
8. You are having trouble eating and/or difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Any of these symptoms are signs that there is something wrong in your mouth. Be it decay, missing teeth, a poor fitting denture, or poor occlusion your dentist can address the issue and get you back to a healthy state.
9. You have a dry mouth.
- Saliva is essential to cleansing the teeth and preventing tooth decay. Without it decay can become rampant. A lack of saliva can also affect the comfort of chewing and swallowing. The Dentist or Hygienist can suggest products to help with keeping your mouth moist and comfortable. For severe cases of dry mouth the dentist can make customized trays for fluoride that when used nightly will stop the progression of decay.
10. You use any kind of tobacco
- People who use tobacco are 10x more likely to develop periodontal disease. Periodontal disease in smokers is more sever, and progresses more rapidly than in non-smokers. Smokers or tobacco users also have increased stain, increased risk for oral cancer, increased tartar buildup and bad breath. The best thing you can do for your oral health is to quit smoking or chewing, if you can't do that, the next best thing is regular dental care.
11. Your mouth has spots or sores that have been there for longer than a week
- Anything that does not go away after a week or so is cause for concern. Your Dentist can prescribe treatment, monitor the condition or take a biopsy as necessary.
12. You have bad breath
- Persistent bad breath and or a bad / metallic taste in the mouth is often a warning sign of Periodontal disease. Left untreated this can lead to tooth loss. Other causes of bad breath include poorly fitted appliances, poorly cleaned dentures, yeast infections of the mouth (thrush), dental caries, dry mouth and smoking. At your dental appointment the dental team will assess the cause and provide treatment options.