I thought I hated dentists until I realised I couldn’t live without them.
I minimize my sugar intake, exercise regularly, and clean my teeth at least twice a day. I consider myself a healthy person. So I’m sure you can understand my genuine shock when I was told I had gum disease!
Life can get busy. Between running the kids around and managing a career, squeezing in two dentist appointments a year was the least of my concern. Oh, was I wrong!
Lying back in the chair while my dentist explained the extent of my oral damage was pretty humiliating. Even my kids had better oral hygiene than me!
With a dent in my ego and freshly cleaned mouth, I promised to never skip another dentist appointment again.
There are two vital parts to every dentist check-up that I didn’t realise were so important to maintaining healthy teeth.
Part 1: The examination
Despite what you may think, your dentist does more than poke their fingers in your mouth while asking personal questions. As you struggle to reply without biting their fingers off, your dentist is looking for plaque build-ups, cavities, and tartar on your teeth.
Without this vital process, persistent sticky plaque will harden into tartar. This is a big problem, as tartar can’t be removed by brushing and flossing.
Lacking the proper tools, this build-up of tartar can cause gum disease just like mine.
Next, your dentist will check your gums. They’ll be looking for any signs of that nasty gum disease by checking the spaces between your teeth and gums. Healthy gums have a pale red hue with shallow spaces, whereas unhealthy gums are dark red and have deeper gaps connecting the teeth to the gum line. You can check this colouring for yourself at home.
Your check-up should also include an inspection of your tongue, throat, neck, face, and head. Any redness or swelling should be addressed, including any unappealing lumps, bumps, or signs of cancer. It’s important to confront any suspicions as soon as possible.
Part 2: The cleaning
While brushing and flossing at home can remove any plaque from your teeth, tartar needs its special tool.
Your dentist will scrape all the hardened plaque from your gum line down to the pockets between your teeth and gum. It may be uncomfortable at times but scaling is vital to maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
A gritty paste will be applied to your teeth and cleaned using a polishing tool. This removes any stains from food, alcohol, coffee, and other substances. They may have tasted great going down, but don’t look so good afterwards. The natural colour for your teeth is a pale yellow and not bright white. Polishing reduces the yellow or grey spots and marks.
Don’t avoid your dentist and risk making the same mistake as me. Taking time out of your busy schedule to see your dentist may just save your teeth and gums a lot of unnecessary pain. Healthy and clean teeth make a great first impression and reduce the embarrassment of being told your sugar-eating kids have better dental hygiene than yourself!
Happy brushing and smile brightly!