Asking dental questions during visits to the dentist is an important way to participate and be in charge of your dental health. What often happens though, is that people go into their visits either nervous and forgetting to ask questions, or not knowing what questions to ask. This tends to happen frequently during dental visits, which is a shame, because asking the right questions can have a positive effect on your overall health.
Your oral health affects the rest of your body.
Your oral health is not only important in and of itself, it also reflects your overall physical health. Taking good care of your teeth and gums has an impact on the rest of your physical well-being. Poor oral health symptoms, such as gum disease and tooth decay have been found to be connected to other illnesses in the body, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Dental questions during your visit.
With that said, a visit to your dentist is an opportunity to not only address your immediate oral health issues, but also to find out how you can best care for yourself in between visits, as well as what you should be keeping an eye out for. Asking dental questions during your visit can open up a dialogue between you and your provider that helps make the most of your visit. Here are some questions you should always ask:
- Everyday dental habits: Am I brushing and flossing enough? Am I doing it properly? Your dentist will be more than happy to demonstrate the most effective techniques for caring for your teeth. It is not uncommon for a person to floss incorrectly.
- What else can I be doing differently to improve my oral health? Your dentist can offer suggestions to improve dental care in between visits, such as avoiding certain foods, using a mouth rinse, etc.
- What is your primary concern about my teeth and gums? Some people come into the office with teeth that are in great shape, but their gums are not so good. Some people may be at a higher risk for bone loss. Some have thin enamel. Find out what your biggest concern should be, and what you can do about it between now and your next visit.
- What kind of products should I be using? There are a myriad of oral health products in stores. Various types of toothpaste, mouth wash, mouth rinse, floss, toothbrushes, tooth whiteners, etc. It can be hard to know what to choose, and we often just use what we've always used. Find out what your dentist recommends for your teeth. Find out what he or she has to say about tooth whiteners, for example.
- Oral cancer is often not diagnosed until it has advanced and spread. Ask your dentist to perform an oral cancer screening, and to teach you how to self-screen. This is especially important if you have risk factors, such as being a smoker.
These are just a few important questions you should be asking. Of course, those questions vary depending on whether this is your first visit with your dentist, or if you see this dentist regularly. It is always a good idea before any healthcare visit to write down a list of questions to ask your provider so that you don't forget.
Communication is the key.
In addition to the above dental questions, it is also a good idea to be forthcoming with information that can help your dentist to serve you better. Some examples of things your dentist should know about you:
- Do you use tobacco products? Your dentist will probably be able to tell if you do, but you should definitely let him know.
- Do you have a chronic illness? Examples would be diabetes, heart or lung disease.
- Do you suffer or are you at risk from osteoporosis?
- Do you have any allergies?
- Have you noticed anything unusual going on with your mouth? While a dental exam will generally reveal any issues, you should always report any changes in your mouth to your dentist right away. Things like lumps, bumps, sores, unusual bleeding, discoloration of your mouth, all of these are worth mentioning to your dentist.