Regular dental visits are essential because they allow your dentist to detect cavities (tooth decay) early. Dental appointments shouldn’t just be made when you have a dental problem; prevention is always better than needing a cure. Regular dental visits prevent oral health and general health issues because your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some bacteria can cause diseases.
What’s the connection between oral health and overall health?
- Oral diseases, while largely preventable, pose a significant burden on wellness.
- All people are affected in some way during their lifetime – children, adults, and the elderly all have unique problems.
- Unrecognised and untreated gum disease (periodontitis) is the world’s 6th most prevalent chronic disease.
- Gum health may impact your overall health, whereas medical problems and medications can also affect oral health.
- Treatment of oral health conditions is expensive and usually not part of universal health coverage.
- Oral diseases are caused by various modifiable risk factors, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, sugar consumption, stress, and alcohol use.
What conditions can be linked to oral health?
Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Pregnancy and birth complications (premature birth and low birth weight)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
What are the benefits of regular dental check-ups?
- Early detection, advice, and prevention of dental problems reduce the risks of issues that may affect oral health and well-being.
- Improve oral health and treatment of periodontitis that can enhance or lead to other systemic diseases.
- Avoid bad breath.
- Spot problems before they get worse, thereby preventing more significant issues.
- Regular x-rays identify undetected problems below the surface.
- Treating dental problems in the early stages saves costs in the long term.
- It puts your mind at ease and reduces anxiety.
- It improves the quality of life.
What oral health concerns are critical elements of a dental check-up?
- Oral hygiene
- Gum disease (periodontitis)
- Tooth wear and chipping (grinding and bruxing)
- Tooth erosion and abrasion (improper tooth brushing, abrasive toothpaste, acidic diet, acid reflux)
- Demineralisation and dental cavities
- Oral lesions / oral cancer
- Dry and burning mouth
- Jaw joint problems
- Missing teeth, bite collapse & masticatory problems
- What lies under the surface? (x-rays) (i.e., infections, cysts, tumors, wisdom teeth)
- Changes in medical status/ medications that may affect oral health
Children, adults, and the elderly all have unique problems such as:
- Children (growth, development, malocclusions, breathing and sleep disturbance disorders)
- Adults (tooth wear, gum problems, jaw joint problems)
- Elderly (missing teeth, gum problems, dry or burning mouth, medications)
What are the recommended protocols for regular dental check-ups?
- Usually, every six months
- At-risk patients (i.e., periodontitis) every 3 months
When to consult a doctor?
Consult an Intercare dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
Dr Johan Hartshorne, Dentist, Intercare Tyger Valley Medical & Dental Centre