If you think that a dental check-up is restricted to just cavities and general teeth and gum health check-up, then think again. The scope is much wider and it covers a full mouth, tongue, throat, face, head and neck check-up to detect any possible disease related directly or indirectly to your oral health.
Dr Zamen Al Janabi, GP Dentist and Head of Department at Canadian Specialist Hospital says, “A dental health check-up will comprise of two stages, the examination and the prophylaxis. At the dental check-up your dental professional might take X-rays to detect cavities between your teeth. Also, the dentist checks for plaque and tartar on your teeth and remove them if found, because if plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth, they can cause oral diseases. The gum will be checked using a special tool to measure the depth of the spaces between the teeth and gum.”
He further adds, “During the check-up, the dentist should also include a careful examination of the tongue, throat, face, head, and neck. If any oral health problems are found during the examination, they will recommend the treatment.”
Dr Zara Arezu Akhavan, Cosmetics and General Dentist at HealthBay says, “Dental check-ups are a critical part of preventive health care. On your first visit to a dentist, they will take a full health history. Comprehensive dental exams not only check for tooth caries and gum health but also to examine your entire mouth, soft tissue, gingiva, tongue, occlusion, head and neck area for abnormalities. Your dentist will discuss your diet and oral hygiene habits and will demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques.“
Why Dental Health Check-Ups Are Important?
Dental appointments shouldn’t just be made when you have a problem that needs to be addressed. Prevention is always better than needing a cure. Here’s why experts think it’s a must:
Dr Nuno Sarmento General Dentist at Dubai London Clinic says, “A regular dental check up is important because they help keep your teeth and gums healthy. You should have a regular dental visit at least every 6 months or as recommended by your dental professional.”
Dr Mohammed Sarris, General Dentist at Mediclinic City Hospital says, “It allows the dentist to discover any problems that may potentially be present. Dental problems often can be a sign of underlying health issues elsewhere in the body so it is important to discover and treat any problems early. Problems discovered late usually means more complex and costly treatment.”
Dr Mahmoud Fawzi, General Dentistry at Emirates Specialty Hospital says, “Even with the most diligent daily brushers and flossers, there are still small areas in the mouth that are missed by a regular brushing and flossing. When plaque builds up it becomes more difficult to remove, solidifying and turning into tartar, which is extremely difficult to get rid of without professional help. Regular dental cleaning prevent tartar from eroding teeth or creating holes in them, which is how cavities are created. Cavities rarely give any warning signs as they form, only resulting in a small ache once the tooth is already decayed. Once the damage has been done, you will have to go back to the dentist to have cavities and other tooth problems filled and fixed. This can all be avoided with regular cleaning that take care of plaque and tartar before it becomes destructive.”
What Is The Right Age To Start Dental Health Check-Ups?
It is best to encourage children to attend from a young age preferably when the first baby teeth have apeared. It helps the children get accustomed to visiting the dentist, reducing any fears or anxiety about the visits. They are then more likely to visit the dentist on a regular basis which would be beneficial in the long run. Regular dental check-ups every six months is recommended.
Dr Neil Mitchell of Dr Roze and Associate says, “The current generally agreed guidelines say your child should begin regular check-ups somewhere between when the first tooth erupts in the mouth to no later than age 18 months. The first visits are more about getting your child used to trips to the dentist and acclimatising to the people, sights and sounds that are there. Starting early usually makes for stress free visits later and gives you time to ask all the questions you may have about your child's dental health.”
Dr Sameh Atallah, Dental Surgeon and Implantologist at Allied Medical Center in Dubai says, “The recommended age to start the regular dental check up is as early as 6 months of age after the first tooth erupts and no later than the first birthday."
Commenting on what to expect on your child’s first visit to the dentist,
Dr Mahmoud Fawzi of Emirates Specialty Hospital says, “You can take your child at a younger age, but experts recommend taking him or her within 6 months of the first tooth coming in, or by about 12 months at the latest. At this time, the dentist can give you information on baby bottle tooth decay, infant feeding practices, mouth cleaning, teething, pacifier habits and finger-sucking habits.”
What Are The Possible Implications Of Not Going For Regular Dental Health Check-Ups?
Prevention is always better than cure, and it is very well implied here. When you do not visit your dentist, you may need a rather painful treatment later for the problems you did not deal with in their early stages, or even missed the chance to prevent them altogether.
Dr Zamen Al Janabi of Canadian Specialist Hospital says, “During regular dental check-ups, the dentist cleans the teeth and removes plaque and tartar. By skipping these appointments, bacteria will flourish and attack the teeth and gums and cause bad breath, gum diseases and decay that may require extensive restorations such as a root canal or crown.”
Dr Zara Arezu Akhavan of HealthBay says, “There are also many bad habits that you may not even be aware can have a negative impact on your oral health. Some of these habits include chewing ice, biting your nails, clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, eating particularly sticky or hard sweets, brushing your teeth too hard, drinking coffee and red wine, and smoking. When you go for regular dental check-ups, your dentist can check for any oral damage caused by these or other habits which you may otherwise not have noticed. Being informed about specific destructive habits allows you to change or alter your lifestyle choice to prevent further damage."
Dr Neil Mitchell of Dr Roze and Associate added, “Recent studies show that regular attendants pay up to 30% less than those who visited only when they had a problem over a ten year period.”
How To Look After Your Dental Health At Home?
Some of the top home care tips as advised by the experts include:
1. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss between the teeth to remove dental plaque.
2. Drink fluoridated water and brush with fluoride toothpaste. Spit out after brushing and do not rinse, so that the fluoride stays on your teeth longer
3. Change your toothbrush every three months.
4. Avoid tobacco and alcohol
5. Eat plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grain foods as healthy snacks, and keep the sugary drinks to a minimum - they are among the factors that can promote tooth decay.
6. Avoid food between meals and limit acidic drinks and sugary food.
7. Avoid using your teeth for anything other than chewing food.
8. Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Dental Care For Children
Parents need to be a little more cautious while developing good dental care habits in their children. Here’s what experts have to say:
Dr Zara Arezu Akhavan of HealthBay says, “The AAP recommends that, after a feeding, parents wipe a baby’s gums with a soft washcloth or a baby toothbrush using water only - no toothpaste. You could also use a dentist-recommended cleanser. When a child’s first tooth appears, parents should brush their child’s teeth for two minutes twice a day and switch to a child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrush with a cushioned head, and a pea-sized dab of non-fluoridated toothpaste.
Children two and older should use fluoridated toothpaste and they should brush their own teeth. Parents, however, should still follow up and brush them again to make sure they’re clean. If a child resists having his or her teeth brushed, parents need to get creative and make the process fun. Supervise your child’s brushing until good habits are established. Most children don’t have the manual dexterity for thorough teeth cleaning until they are about 7 years old. Until then, help your child brush and floss. Let them 'do it themselves' first, and then follow up by helping them brush and floss again.”
Dr Mahmoud Fawzi of Emirates Specialty Hospital says, “Brushing should start as soon as the first primary tooth erupts. Children under three years should use no more than a smear of toothpaste - a thin film of paste covering less than three quarters of the brush - and must not be permitted to eat or lick toothpaste from the tube.”