Many people ignore their overall dental health until they have a crisis and can no longer put off a trip to the dentist. This can be a mistake, as taking care of your teeth properly can mean having them last for much longer than if you overlook developing cavities and other issues. Note a few questions you might have about dental health and caring for your teeth, and then discuss these with your dentist as needed.
1. How safe are dental x-rays?
You may avoid seeing your dentist every year, or as recommended, simply because you're afraid of the radiation of X-rays. However, keep in mind that the radiation used by dental X-rays is minimal and should not be harmful; today's X-ray machines are even more efficient than ever before, allowing for an xXray to target just one tiny area of the mouth. High-speed X-ray machines used in many dental offices today work faster than older machines, so they also require smaller doses of radiation. In all cases, you shouldn't let this concern keep you from visiting a dentist, as even a visual exam can mean finding developing cavities and other problems in your mouth.
2. Aren't sensitive teeth just something you need to live with?
Very often sensitivity is not normal. In many cases, it is a sign of a developing cavity or erosion of tooth enamel. Ignoring these problems can mean needing extensive dental work down the road, whereas getting a cavity filled when it first starts developing or having teeth covered with veneers when enamel starts to erode can strengthen and protect them. Your dentist may also have suggestions for changes you might make to your diet, such as cutting out sugary and acidic foods, or to your oral hygiene routine, to protect your teeth from further damage.
3. Why would a dentist recommend more than an annual visit?
Most adults are recommended to visit their dentist, at least for a check-up, once every year. However, some people are at increased risk for tooth decay, gum disease and other conditions that should be checked more frequently. If you smoke or chew tobacco, this can cause tooth decay and increase your risk of oral cancer. If you eat lots of sugary or acidic foods, as mentioned above, this can also increase your risk of cavities developing. In these cases, your dentist may want to monitor your oral health more frequently than just once per year.