Whether you have been seeing the same hygienist for the past 10 years or are on the hunt for a new Dentist, there are a few questions you should be asking at every visit. It is extremely important that you are as informed as possible when it comes to your dental health and their answers will ensure that you will be on top of any issues should they arise.
At each visit, your dental hygienist will ask if anything has changed medically. Sometimes the smallest change in medication could have a big effect on your oral health and you may not even know it. By confirming which medications you are taking, have stopped taking, or have changed, you are ensuring that your dental professional has as much information as possible about your health which can help avoid possible procedure complications. Here is a real life example: one of our patients who suffer from allergies was prescribed a nasal spray. Most people may not even mention this to their dentist or hygienist because really, what’s the big deal? The patient ended up coming in multiple times with very swollen and inflamed gums and could not figure out the reason. After some probing from the dentist, they realized her nasal spray included Cortisone which does have an effect on the gingival. Our suggestion if using this type of nasal spray is to thoroughly rinse your mouth each time after use. The more we know, the more we can help.
Whether it is a quick jolt of sensitivity while eating or pain in the jaw or neck, it’s important to ask your practitioner as it may be an early sign of a larger issue. Sensitivity and/or pain in the teeth, gum line, jaw or neck could be a result of gingivitis, teeth grinding, cavities or jaw clenching. It is important to alert your practitioner to any sensitives so they can assess.
If you mouth gets very dry and uncomfortable, it means you are not making enough saliva. We need saliva to digest food, prevent infection, and clean/moisten our mouths. Dry mouth (or Xerostomia) could be the side effect of certain medications, diseases/infections, medical treatments, nerve damage, lifestyle, or dehydration. If you are experiencing a sticky, drying feeling in the mouth, tongue or throat, frequent thirst, mouth sores, cracked lips, bad breath or have trouble speaking, tasting, chewing or swallowing, it is important to tell your practitioner so they can help you find a solution.
Bad or smelly breath is a common problem so most people may not think to mention it at all. However, it could be the symptom to a larger oral health concern including gum disease, tooth decay, or infections in the mouth, lungs, sinuses or airways. Some chronic diseases that can be associated with bad breath or strange odours are diabetes, acid reflux disease and any other disease that restrict liver or kidney function. By asking your dental practitioner, they can help determine the underlying issue.
Do your gums bleed when brushing or flossing? If so, it is usually a sign of gingivitis which can quickly lead to gum disease so it is important to discuss with your hygienist and/or dentist. Any sores or bumps in or around the mouth could be a sign of infection, oral cancer, or another issue altogether. While we do perform oral cancer screenings during every hygiene appointment and initial exam, make sure to mention if you feel something in your mouth so we can determine the issue right away.
Since your oral health affects your overall health, your dentist and family doctor should be on the same page regarding any oral care issues. You should also be asking your family doctor or surgeon if there are any concerns about receiving dental care such as cleanings or fillings, especially if you’ve switched medication or had surgery.
We will always suggest the best products, methods, and cleaning intervals to improve your oral care routine. Our recommendations are based on your individual need and we would be happy to discuss different techniques or alternative methods in order to help improve or keep your mouth healthy.
In order to maintain your best oral health, it is extremely important to be proactive and set up your next appointment. The hygienist and/or dentist will make a recommendation based on their expert opinion and will set up the next appointment with you. Our office will always give you a 2 week reminder before your next appointment in case you need to change it, so do not worry about not knowing your schedule. It is great having a future appointment reserved so that you stay on track.
Written By: Felicia Sprague, Leaside Dentistry Practice Manger