According to NHS England, In the 24-month period ending 31 March 2018, 22.1 million adult patients were seen by an NHS dentist, representing 50.9 per cent of the adult population.
Hence, half the people in England choose to avoid visiting the dentist even though all the evidence points to the need for regular dental health checks. Delaying going to the dentist will only pile up oral health problems and cost more agony and money in the long term.
Visiting the dentist is of paramount importance in maintaining good oral health as well as it being a great indicator to other possible health problems not to mention the importance of the need to detect oral cancers which diagnosed early greatly improves survival rates. Moreover, oral hygiene and its impact on overall health is well documented.
So, when should I visit the dentist?
It is certainly time to visit the dentist if you experience pain in your teeth, gums or jaw as they will not magically disappear overnight. Things will only get worse and more complex to deal with the longer they are left untreated. For example, a simple filling can progress to an abscess needing root canal treatment and a crown if left untreated.
You only have to watch an advert for toothpaste or a mouthwash to know that bleeding gums are a sign of gum inflammation but using these products alone will not fix the problem. There are other causes of bleeding gums which the dentist can diagnose. If you have suddenly decided that you will be good and start flossing without been shown the correct technique, quite often your gums bleed while you are performing the “gum stripping” ritual!
Smokers tend to have their overall gum inflammation masked by the effect of the smoking and on giving up suddenly note the bleeding gums are a major issue for them.
Management of gum health is always a team effort shared between the patient, dentist and hygienist and even though the patient is the most influential member of the team probably accounting for 90% of this, without the correct diagnoses from the dentist and the diligent maintenance and support of the hygienist, the patients’ work alone is rarely enough to avoid problems.
Transient episodes of bad breath are a common problem for a variety of reasons but chronic problems maybe a sign of other health problems.
Having good oral hygiene should solve transient problems but chronic problems with bad breath may be due to the presence of gross decay, undiagnosed gum disease or periodontitis, oral cancer or other medical conditions such as diabetes, acid reflux, post nasal drip or pharyngeal pouches.
If you experience pain on eating or drinking hot or cold foods and drinks then you are suffering from sensitivity. It’s so easy to say, “I have sensitive teeth!” and then do nothing about it but merely manage to avoid the triggers that cause it rather than deal with it and enjoy all your food and drinks without fear of pain.
Teeth sensitivity is quite common and can be easily dealt with once the dentist has diagnosed the cause which may be relatively simple to deal with but it can be a sign of more complex issues such as tooth fractures, damaged restorations, exposed roots or gum disease. The problem could be rectified by something as simple as altering the brushing technique and using desensitizing toothpaste or something more complex that may involve crowning a tooth to deal with a tooth fracture thereby preventing eventual loss of a tooth.
Mouth Injury or unexplained bump or lump or persistent ulcer
Occasionally people will experience trauma to the mouth because of a fall or knock and accept a tooth has not broken but loosened but still don’t visit the dentist. Visiting the dentist will ensure the long-term health of that tooth and its correct position within the mouth.
A persistent ulcer or lump in the mouth maybe a sign of oral cancer and only by visiting the dentist will a correct diagnosis be made and any problems dealt with.
Recent dental work giving you problems?
Sometimes a problem persists after having dental work which patients assume is normal and will eventually subside but in fact it is something that should be addressed now rather than at the next routine dental visit. No matter how talented the dentist is, complications following dental treatments can arise and are usually better dealt with quickly rather than allowing them to progress to more complex issues. A simple example of this is a filling is left slightly high on the bite as the patient was very numb due to having a block injection on their lower jaw where he or she were unable to close their mouth in the usual position. Patients often think it will wear down or it always feels different initially, but in some patients who grind their teeth it may cause irreversible damage to the nerve in the long-term.
Over 6-months since your last visit?
The frequency of visiting the dentist for routine dental checks has been revised by NICE guidelines (National Institute for Care and heath Excellence) in recent years but from our own experience at our practice in Wimbledon, most patients at our mainly maintenance practice is that patients are still better off attending on a 6 months’ basis. At Merton Dental in Wimbledon we routinely screen our patients for all the items mentioned above so if you feel any of the issues apply to you, please call our friendly staff on 02085441122 or email on [email protected] or alternatively use the website book an appointment form on www.mertondental.co.uk .