Active maintenance : Helping you have a beautiful, healthy smile
I have lost count of how many times I have been told that dentists only recommend regular visits for check ups so that can maintain the payments on the Merc.
It is usually said in jest, but not always.
I thought it would be interesting to dedicate this article to this very question. If you are one of those dedicated regular dentist visitors it might give some reassurance that your dedication is healthy, but hopefully it might encourage a few of the swinging voters out there to return to the fold.
Most dentists refer to regular check-ups as ‘hygiene appointments’ or ‘scale and clean appointments’ but this is really misleading because dental hygiene is only a fraction of what goes on at these visits.
At Dental Fresh, we call these visits Active Maintenance Appointments because our goal is to actively improve your quality of life through better oral health.
Changes in Perception of Visits to the Dentist
In 1980 when I graduated from university, it was a commonly held belief amongst dentists that there would be an end to dental disease within the following 20 years – and that we would all be out of a job. I really wondered whether I had made the correct career choice.
In the 70’s and 80’s ‘preventive dentistry’ was all the rage. Statistics showed the 70% of people attended the dentist once or more each year. Following the introduction of fluoridated water in 1968 the incidence of dental decay in children plummeted to the point where I rarely did fillings on kids born and raised in Sydney in the 80s and early 90’s.
Fast-forward to 2017 and we have never been busier. As good as it is for me, it is actually quite sad that our profession has failed to deliver on the promise of an end to dental disease.
So why is this the case? There are many reasons, but the simple explanation is a combination of human nature and complacency. There is really very little research available on dental attendance in the 2000’s, but regular attendance has probably dropped to about 20%. Some of the reasons that people give for not going to the dentist include;
- Lack of time
- Not feeling the need because there is nothing hurting
- Not understanding the benefit
It is not that hard to come up with an excuse to avoid something in our busy lives that is not exactly a fun thing to do, but those who make the effort are rewarded many times over.
Common Excuses by New Patients
Many of the new patients that we see are in an awful mess, often at a stage where they hate to smile and are finding that eating many foods is difficult. Typically they have a few things in common:
- They do not have a regular dentist.
- They generally only see a dentist when there is something wrong.
- They have never been given a plan to not only fix their mouth properly and to prevent further deterioration.
- They have a real fear of going to the dentist.
- They have a lot of expensive work to do!
Perhaps more worrying is that their general health is being compromised as many dental conditions have a direct link to life threatening medical issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia to name the most obvious.
Benefits of Visiting a Dentist Regularly
By contrast our patients who see us regularly do much better.
- They have a much lower incidence of new dental disease.
- Most dental work is either to repair normal wear and tear or perhaps doing something to improve cosmetics.
- Dental treatment is done gradually over a lifetime so there is less short-term financial strain. On average by the age of 60, our regular patients will spend only a fraction of what others pay in dental bills.
- There is much less fear of treatment as they have built trust with us over many years.
So what do we do when you come for your Active Maintenance Appointment?
The first thing you need to know is that your appointment is tailored to your individual needs because the nature of our dental health changes, as we get older.
In younger patients we concentrate on strategies that will prevent dental decay and hopefully help to create a beautiful and functional smile.
As time passes prevention of gum disease and prevention of wear and tear becomes more important.
For our seniors, the link between oral health and general health becomes a focus.
Of course no matter what your age we want to make sure that eating a yummy meal is something to look forward to.
Some of the things we do at Active Maintenance Appointments.
- Update your medical history and check how we contribute to your general health.
- Talk to you about how your teeth have been since we last saw you.
- Deal with any problems or concerns you may have.
- Check for tooth decay.
- Check for gum disease.
- Check for oral cancer.
- Check your bite and jaw muscle function.
- Check sinus health.
- Check work that we have done for you in the past to make sure it working as it should.
- If you have dentures we will check clean and polish them.
- We remove any stains from your teeth and remove any build up of plaque.
- If you have dental implants we will check that they are healthy and functioning well.
- We check how home maintenance is going to keep your mouth healthy between visits.
- Most important of all, we try to get to know our patients so that we can make going to the dentist as easy as it possibly can be.
The most pleasing aspect of our job is knowing that we are helping our patient to live longer and happier lives.