Most people are already aware that they should brush and floss every day to maintain optimum dental health. However, a few dental tips are far less well-known. Here are the top 10 things your dentist wants you to know before your next dental visit.
The vast majority of the general public seems to be under the impression that a little bleeding after a tooth brushing is normal. But bleeding gums are a sign of inflammation due to infection—an infection which could eventually spread to the rest of your body. Be sure to tell your dentist if you’ve seen any blood after brushing and flossing—that will help him or her to identify if you have gum disease and, if so, nip the problem in the bud.
If the last time you flossed was, well, the last time you had a dental checkup, you’re better off leaving your gums alone before your appointment. Dentists can tell by your gum tissue whether you floss regularly or not, and a hasty pre-appointment flossing will hurt your gums more than it helps them.
The next time you floss, smell the piece of floss before you throw it away. You’ll instantly know where bad breath is most likely to originate from. No matter how often you brush your teeth and tongue, if you neglect flossing, you’ll still suffer from bad breath—and those around you will, too! Therefore, be sure to floss every day, no matter how annoying you may find it.
If you’re a lipstick-lover who has squeezed in a checkup after work, this tiny detail might slip your mind—but be sure to remove your lipstick before your appointment! Lipstick will get all over the dentist’s gloves, examination tools, and your teeth, so make sure to wipe it off before your appointment begins.
Pierce your eyebrows, your ears, your lips, or your nose—but don’t pierce your tongue. Mouth piercings are at huge risk for infection if they aren’t performed in an absolutely sterile environment, and in some cases, an infection can become so rampant that pieces of the tongue must be removed. Even if there is no infection, tongue piercings often chip front teeth, causing your dentist even more anxiety. So if you value your smile, and your dentist’s sanity, keep the piercings on the outside of your face.
Because bacteria can start to grow early, it’s important to bring your baby to the dentist when the first tooth appears. Tooth decay is common in children and toddlers, but it’s 100% preventable if you take the right first steps. While we’re on the subject of babies, don’t ever let your infant go to sleep with a bottle in its mouth—that can cause bottle tooth decay. Pacifiers, sippy cups, and chew toys can also contribute to tooth decay if a child is permitted to fall asleep with them.
Many patients worry about the radiation levels emitted during their dental X-Rays, but are unaware of how much radiation they already receive on a daily basis. One hour sunbathing outside will expose you to more solar radiation than you’d receive from a full set of dental X-Rays—meaning you might receive more radiation on your drive to the dentist’s office than during your appointment. A much bigger concern, from a dentist’s perspective, is skipping the X-Rays and missing a serious issue.
Pain is a poor guide when it comes to teeth. In the case of most dental problems, there won’t be any pain until the situation has become extreme. For example, if one of your teeth has a hairline fracture, you won’t feel anything until the fracture has split, like a piece of firewood, all the way down to the root. Never skip an dentist appointment because you don’t feel any pain; the pain just might not have arrived yet.
This one should be a no-brainer—but there are still many people who believe that if a smile looks healthy, it is healthy. However, your teeth are like a house—even if the walls are stable, something scary could eating away at the structure. So even if everything looks fine, you should still make regular dental check-ups.
Many older adults with perfectly good dental hygiene are surprised when it is discovered that they have a cavity. However, dentists often see a spike in cavities among adults aged 45-60, and most attribute it to an increased use of medications. Many medications, like blood pressure or anti-anxiety medicine, can reduce salivary flow, which increases the risk of tooth decay. Even something as small as aspirin or ibuprofen can contribute to tooth decay—so make sure to always tell your dentist everything you’re taking. Many people also don’t know that aspirin can cause excess bleeding, especially during tooth extractions.
If you haven’t been to the dentist because you’re ashamed of your teeth, or afraid of what he or she might find, you’re not alone. More than one third of Americans don’t visit the dentist regularly. Rest assured that your dentist has seen it all, and he or she is here to help, not judge. Taking care of your teeth and taking the first step towards a healthy smile is as simple as making an appointment with your dentist.