‘Playing Politics’ With Dental Care?

Oral examinations and patient responsibilities.

Dentist doing examinationSome of you will probably have read about the promise of free dental check ups by one of the main political parties in the forthcoming general election. There is no doubt that check ups are an essential part of an overall health care plan so the more people that have them the better. Whether this is the way to go though can be debated by the political parties and we aren’t about to enter that debate here.

As check ups will probably now be fresh in people’s minds, the team at the Cygnet Dental Practice thought that this would be a good time to look at the importance of this particular appointment as well as the patient’s response to it.

Why have a check up?

Check ups may seem to be a ‘waste of time’ for some patients, especially those who do look after their teeth well and are always given a clean bill of health. Even if this is the case, check ups should not be avoided. Teeth can crack for a number of reasons and however well you clean them, there is no guarantee against that. Any cracked or chipped tooth is more vulnerable to tooth decay so early intervention is essential.

For those who may not clean their teeth perfectly or are at a higher risk of dental problems, such as diabetics, the six monthly check up that you have at our Wickford dental practice is essential to monitor your oral health and to act promptly when problems are detected.

For the majority of people, a regular oral examination not only allows us to treat any problems in their early stages but also allows us to offer advice regarding better oral care. For example, we might detect a slight build up of tartar in a particular area which isn’t being cleaned as well as it should be. Directing a patient to this issue enables them to focus better on that area and thereby hopefully avoid the problems that gum disease can bring.

Oral cancer

The number of cases of oral cancers are on the increase and your oral examination plays an important role in detecting possible symptoms in their early stages. Because we are in a position to examine your mouth closely, we are in an ideal situation to notice any changes or irregularities. These may well be caused by other, less serious, factors but we may suggest that you see your GP, just to be on the safe side.

The patient’s ‘contract’

Although you are under no obligation to act upon any advice that our Wickford dental team give you, it makes absolute sense to do so. We know that some patients walk out of our practice just relieved that they have been given a clean bill of health and don’t need any fillings. We do understand this but urge you also to reflect on any advice you have been given. It isn’t for fun that we suggest that you start to use dental floss, see a hygienist or stop smoking. These are all for your benefit and will improve the health of your teeth and gums.

In fact, let us take a look at those 3 things now as these are some of the most common pieces of advice that we give to our patients.

Dental floss – far too few people use this despite the better knowledge surrounding gum disease. It may seem a rudimentary tool in today’s hi-tech age but it is still the most effective out there. It can be tricky at first but once you have got used to it, it only takes a few minutes each day to remove residual food and bacteria from between your teeth where a lot of problems can start. If you struggle to do it, just ask us how; we will be happy to show you.

Dental hygienists – This is sometimes seen as a ‘top up’ or an ‘additional extra’ but should really be an essential part of your oral health care plan. However well we look after our teeth, tartar can build up in the more difficult to reach places. This provides a rough surface for more bacteria to collect upon, increasing the likelihood of gingivitis. This hardened substance can only be removed with a scale and polish. We suggest 6 monthly appointments for this for most patients, and perhaps more frequently for those at higher risk.

Smoking – There can be very few people who now argue that smoking is good for you. Smoking not only stains your teeth, leaving them yellow and unsightly, but is a leading cause of oral cancer. Even if you avoid this, it greatly increases the risk of gum disease and stopping smoking is one of the best things that you can do for both your oral and your general health.

In summary then, and avoiding political debate, regular check ups are essential if you want to have healthy teeth and gums. Equally important is that patients act on any advice given. We are here to support you in that and are happy to answer any questions you might have.

If you would like to arrange an appointment at the Cygnet Dental Practice or would like to contact us for any other reason related to your oral health, you can do so by calling our Wickford practice on 01268 733078.