Ah, it's over. At the end of a dental exam, many patients breathe a sigh of relief, figuring they're done. They hope they don't have to worry about anything until their next scheduled visit! Hopefully Dr. White and his team will have anticipated your questions but they certainly will standby to answer any concerns.
So what questions should one ask before hopping up from the chair? First, make sure you are screened for gum disease and oral cancer. Gum disease is common in adults, and it gets progressively worse if left untreated. Mild gum disease, or gingivitis, is easy to reverse. Routine tooth-brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings can restore health to the mouth. Periodontitis, however, is more severe. Gums pull away from the teeth, and bone loss can occur. Catching gum disease early on is key to preventing serious damage to teeth, gums, and bone.
Screening for oral cancer is important as well. Oral cancer often begins as small spots that are easy to overlook. As with any cancer, early detection improves chances of remission. Make sure those screenings get done.
Next, question the dentist about his policy concerning after-hours emergencies. No one wants to think about having a dental crisis, but knowing proper protocol in case helps. Knowing ahead of time the right steps to take in an urgent situation reduces panic and allows one to get help more quickly.
The third question to address with the dentist concerns any procedures that he might have recommended. It's important to know which treatments are essential and which might be optional. Are any cosmetic? Which ones are urgent, and which ones could perhaps wait awhile? Prioritizing the order of treatment soothes many patients' fears and allows them to explore options for financing if necessary.
Finally, it's a good idea to ask for specific tips for improving the health of teeth and gums. Most people are trying their best, but reminders never hurt. The dentist also might suggest ways to tweak one's current routine so that it's more effective and offer new ideas to try. Since it's possible to prevent most gum disease, knowing the best way to care for teeth and gums between visits is crucial.
There, now the visit's done! Feel free to jump up from the chair and exult in a fresh, clean mouth and a period of freedom before the next appointment!