National Dentist Day: Ten Ways Your Dentist Protects Your Health

When you need something professionally or medically dealt with, you have those certain people you call. A skilled mechanic helps stretch another year out of your car until you can afford a new one. A crafty accountant guides you through the paperwork nightmare that is tax season. And how many parents don't want a caring pediatrician for their new bundle of joy?

Your dentist doesn't automatically come to mind with these other professions, but perhaps they should. As National Dentist Day approaches on March 6, honor these 10 ways your dentist supports your health.

  1. Offers Pain Relief
    Mouth pain can arise in many forms – such as a cavity or impacted wisdom teeth – but there's no need to suffer in excruciating pain. A good dentist will sneak you in right away to diagnose and, more importantly, relieve your pain.

  2. Soothes Fears
    A lot of folks erroneously avoid regular checkups due to anxiety over dental procedures. Your dentist and their staff will provide a caring and reassuring atmosphere for all of their patients. A dentist wants to help you keep your oral care in check.

  3. Cares for Kids
    Just like adults, some children might be wary of a trip to the dentist, especially if it's their first visit. Positive experiences at the dentist's office form a foundation for lifelong oral health, so these initial check-ups are crucial. The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine offers a guide for what you and your children can expect.

  4. Detects Diseases
    For a healthy mouth, dental visits can be as easy as a quick cleaning. But serious medical issues could emerge at some point. Your dentist will be on the lookout for all of them, ranging from periodontal disease to rotting teeth, to something as serious as cancer.

  5. Assists Pregnant Women
    Moms-to-be have long to-do lists before their newborn arrives. Schedule an appointment as soon as you know you're pregnant to avoid developing gingivitis or other oral issues that pregnancy may cause.

  6. Helps With Nutrition
    You might not know the best foods to eat to protect your teeth and oral health. A good dentist will not only be able to tell you what food to avoid, but also offer some healthy alternatives.

  7. Perfects Your Smile
    It seems like teeth sometimes have a mind of their own, and decide to grow in any old way. A dentist can recognize this and assist you in determining if your child needs braces. A straight smile is a healthy smile. They can also assist with whitening your teeth, so your smile shines as bright as you.

  8. Treats the Elderly
    Just like dental care is important for young children, the same can be said for seniors. Oral problems are bound to arise as people get long in the tooth. You only get one set of teeth, but a good dentist makes it last.

  9. Performs Mouth Maintenance
    You wouldn't drive your car for three years without changing the oil, so why neglect regular dental checkups? Your dentist will conveniently schedule your next checkup at the end of each appointment. And they'll send out an email reminder or give a courtesy call to remind you.

  10. Offers an Oral Care Plan
    Your dentist can help you formulate a plan that includes brushing twice a day along with daily flossing. He can also recommend certain types of brushes, toothpastes and mouth rinses such as Colgate Total® Mouthwash for Gum Health.

Any dentist will appreciate a receiving heartfelt "thank you" after a cleaning. With National Dentist Day right around the corner, there are many small but thoughtful ways to show your appreciation. The most considerate compliment, however, is word of mouth – so refer your dentist to all of your family and friends. And as always, keeping up with your oral health is a great gift, both for your dentist and yourself.

The next time your pipes freeze or your brakes start to squeak, you'll likely start searching through your contacts list instantly. Make sure your dentist is also in there, because a chipped tooth might be just one bite away.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.