Raindrops on roses Whiskers on kittens Bright copper kettles And sitting directly under a bright light while a total stranger puts her fingers and various sharp objects in my mouth to check for cavities...
Ok, I think we all know why that last one didn’t make the list of our favorite things.
Look, nobody likes going to the dentist office. Not even the dentists like it - there’s a reason they always end up on the golf course by 3:00 in the afternoon.
Because going to the dentist can be so unpleasant, it’s pretty easy to become a passive participant in our own oral health care. While it’s true we need the expertise of dentists and dental hygienists to make informed decisions, getting involved and engaged can not only save you a lot of pain, it can save you a lot of money, too!
That’s why we’ve put together this quick article of 3 simple questions you can ask your dentist at your next visit. With these tips at your fingertips, you’ll be well-equipped to take charge of your own oral health.
#1 - How Time-Sensitive is This Procedure?
Whenever your dentist recommends a filling or other procedure, make sure you ask them how urgent that particular procedure might be and whether there are any alternatives. Many procedures aren’t so time-sensitive that they can’t be spread out over several months. This can not only make paying the bills much easier, it can also give you some time to assess and correct a problem without a dramatic drilling intervention.
In fact, some “cavities” aren’t yet true, fully-developed cavities, and you might even be able to help them heal naturally without a painful procedure!
To that end, one of our favorite questions to ask whenever a dentist finds a cavity is “is it a full cavity, or just an area of demineralization?”
Cavities are tiny gaps or holes that develop in your teeth, and need to be addressed pretty quickly before they get worse. An area of demineralization, on the other hand, is an area of your tooth that’s been minimally eroded or damaged, usually by acid. Areas of demineralization will often later develop into cavities, which is why some risk-averse dentists will go ahead and fill them like a full cavity.
However, with some care and attention on your part, an area of demineralization can heal and return to being a happy healthy tooth again. Most good dentists will try and give your teeth the chance to heal damage on their own, but it’s always worth double-checking before you get that filling.
#2 - What’s Unique or Unusual About My Teeth?
Here’s a fun question - how much do you know about your own teeth?
Do you know where all your cavities and fillings are located? What about the places that seem to be a little more sensitive or that you have a hard time hitting with your toothbrush?
Most people couldn’t tell you where their problem areas are, so it’s no surprise that they don’t have a plan to address potential problems between office visits.
If you don’t know already, it’s time to find out.
Ask your hygienist if you have any areas where there seems to be more plaque than others, which may mean you need to change up your brushing technique, and ask your dentist if you have any areas that need special attention. With their help you can come up with a plan to be proactive in your oral health care, which may prevent cavities and, ultimately, having to meet the business end of that drill yet again.
#3 - What Do You Recommend To Control Cavity-Causing Oral Bacteria?
Most of the big procedures in dental medicine - fillings, root canals, that sort of thing - are very reactive - something bad has happened to your teeth, so now you need to do some damage control.
Many dentists find themselves locked into that perspective during their work day. They’re thinking about how to solve the problems directly in front of them, rather than focusing on preventing future problems.
Taking the time to ask your dentist about preventative options is a great way to get some extra guidance and save some money and pain in the long run.
Depending on your dentist, you might hear a couple of different things, though. Your dentist might tell you that it’s all about brushing and flossing. While those things certainly help, they’re definitely not the only thing you could be doing.
The truth is, brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings are all designed around a single idea - getting rid of that plaque film that builds up on your teeth.
Plaque is that nasty, fuzzy stuff that builds up between brushings. While your toothbrush is a decent tool for removing plaque, it’s not perfect - there are cracks and crevices that even the most perfect of brushing techniques can’t reach.
Plaque is basically a giant housing complex for harmful cavity-causing bacteria. Whenever they have a spare moment, these bacteria are laying down this plaque and settling in to deal permanent damage to your teeth.
Unfortunately, your toothbrush can’t do much about this bacteria other than knock down their houses, which leaves them free to keep causing damage.
More and more, dentists across the world are recognizing the incredible work that xylitol can put in preventing cavities. In fact, the evidence is so persuasive that the California Dental Association recommends that every adult get at least 6 grams of xylitol per day as a part of their oral health care regimen.
Xylitol is an all-natural sweetener that’s been proven to target and remove Streptococcus mutans, a specific strain of bacteria in your mouth that’s known to directly contribute to cavity formation.
Evicting Streptococcus mutans from your smile means less plaque production overall, and less plaque means fewer cavities.
Designed to be there in the moments you need them most, Epic Gum & Mints put xylitol to work for your teeth, protecting against tooth-dissolving acid attacks and the cavity-causing bacteria that create them. With xylitol, you’ll get the kind of cavity protection that your toothbrush simply can’t provide.
Taking time to get informed and be proactive about your oral health doesn’t have to be a huge process with hours of homework. We really believe that a real oral health solution doesn’t require you to turn your life upside-down or add hours of extra work each day.
Pick up some Epic Gum or Mints and give them a try, and the next time you see your dentist ask him a few critical questions, and you’ll be well on your way to a happier, healthier smile.