And the six month dental recall…
“Okay, Ms (insert name here). Thanks for visiting us again today, you’re maintaining your teeth and gums really well, we’ll see you again in six months’ time”.
Have you left your routine dental appointment thinking… my hygienist just told me everything is okay, why do I need to come back in six months? If we’ve left you feeling like this, we apologise! This blog will help to give some insight as to why we recommend routine six month dental appointments.
What is preventative dentistry
First off, we’ll start with the basics – is prevention really better than cure, and what is preventative dentistry anyway?
Prevention takes many forms in dentistry; from motivating our patients to brush and floss (there’s a reason, we promise!), exposure to fluoride either through water fluoridation, toothpaste or applications in the dental surgery, to eating a well-balanced diet. Each of these factors plays a pivotal role in the health of the teeth and gums. How we do that at each hygiene appointment will vary, but the foundations remain the same:
- Review and update medical history: some common medications and medical conditions can affect our medication or treatments.
- Oral cancer screen: checking for any lumps, bumps, ulcers or anything out of the ordinary. Some patients are more susceptible to developing oral lesions, and it’s critical that areas around the mouth are checked regularly.
- Examination of the teeth and gums: reviewing for decay, cracked teeth, chipped or broken down fillings. Also assessing the gums and looking for signs of inflammation or infection.
- Radiographs: Dental x-rays are taken at routine intervals and are assessed based on the patients overall level of risk, but generally taken every 2 – 5 years. These will assess for decay between the teeth, loss of bone and tatar build up. We follow a strict standard when it comes to dental xrays and follow the ALARA principal: As Low As Reasonably Achievable, which aims to manage and control the amount of radiation exposure.
The mouth is considered the gateway to the body with increasing evidence-based research to suggest that maintaining the health of the teeth and gums can lead to an improvement to general health.
So, why does the hygienist nag me about my flossing (or lack thereof…) routine?
We’re passionate about health, and genuinely want our patients to be in good health. Flossing, although tedious, aims to remove and reduce the accumulation of food, plaque and bacteria which builds up on the teeth and gums. Over time, the gradual accumulation of these deposits can cause gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay. The early signs of gum disease, or gingivitis, can present as red, bleeding gums which is normally noticed when brushing or flossing – but is not a reason to stop! This is the body’s inflammatory response, trying to fight the bacteria living in and around the gums and regular cleaning of these areas will aid in the reduction of gingivitis. Should the bleeding be persistent or profuse, we recommend visiting us for a check-up.
A “one size fits all” approach to prevention isn’t applied to our patients.
Most of our patients are committed to every day brushing and flossing, eat a well-balanced diet, follow our recommendations, and help the elderly cross the street. Some of our patients require a more frequent recall to maintain their oral health conditions. A shorter recall is used for patients who have current periodontal conditions, or those who are at a higher risk of their periodontal conditions progressing if left longer than 6 months.
At North Sydney Dental Practice, we aim to ensure that our patients keep their teeth and maintain their gums for life. We also like to use metaphors: visiting the dentist every 6 months is like changing the oil in your car – it’s a good habit and will keep your teeth and gums in a state of health for life.
So next time you see us, don’t be afraid to ask questions! We are more than happy to answer any questions our patients throw at us. No really, we enjoy a challenge!
And see you in six months’ time!