Well, don't be! Rest assured, says dental hygienist and therapist, Melonie Prebble, a dental team will not be passing judgement on your less-than-perfect smile. They're simply there to help you on your way to better oral health. As National Smile Month begins, she looks at how your local practice can help turn that frown upside down.
Nobody enjoys going to the dentist. For many of us, it's a necessary evil and an appointment routinely slotted into our own private to-do list of annual health check-ups. But, what if we have a real fear of the dental surgery, or have put off these vital visits because we lead such busy lives - or simply haven't bothered in a long while? As a consequence of our tardy attendance, we may now be nursing toothache, sore gums and a poorly maintained smile that feels beyond repair - or, worse, disease of which we're not yet aware. And this, in turn, means we cannot face a visit to the dentist for fear of a 'ticking off' or a gasp by the dental hygienist or therapist at the horrors of what lies inside our mouth. When patients get to this point - when they are too embarrassed to pay a visit to the dental surgery - then that is exactly the right time to pop in.
Mouths I see
And, I'm going to be honest, it's highly likely your dentist, dental hygienist or dental therapist has seen a lot worse so don't delay. Often, the patients I haven't seen in a while feel bad for leaving it so long and are embarrassed about their dirty teeth or a smile that reveals teeth that are crowded, loose or chipped. Tooth wear and loss of enamel due to erosion caused by an acid attack of food and drink are common, too. Enamel is the hard, protective coating that protects the sensitive dentine underneath the tooth and, when this is worn away, the dentine underneath is exposed, which often means pain and sensitivity.
Why dental health is important
As we all know, dental health is very important - not just for keeping our smile in check but for our overall health too. That sticky bacterial plaque that builds up will inevitably lead to inflamed and bleeding gums that don't just pose a risk to our dental health. Increasingly, scientists around the globe are discovering that bacteria and inflammation in yourmouth can also affect the health of your heart, or may lead to dementia, type 2 diabetes and even rheumatoid arthritis. Like all dental hygienists and therapists, my job is to guide you to better oral health and chat about how best to look after your teeth.
My advice to my patients is to invest in some essentials to keep their mouths healthy. Electric toothbrushes, interdental brushes, tongue cleaners and fluoride toothpaste, along with a healthy balanced diet, are important in your pledge to look after your mouth. Most dental surgeries will have leaflets for you to take away and read and can offer oral hygiene demonstrations too. If unsure about the way you brush your teeth or how best to use interdental brushes, make sure you ask questions. We want to support you in any behaviour change and, funnily enough, we just love talking about teeth!
Talk about it!
Many patients - with the right reassurance and treatment options - will turn around their dental health and quickly shed any unnecessary fears and anxiety. Their overall health and wellbeing will definitely benefit from a new-found oral health regime - and don't forget, dental hygienists and therapists can also help and support you to:
- Review dietary habits
- Review smoking habits
- Check for diabetes risks
- Check for alcohol intake
- Discuss tooth erosion risks.
So, to mark National Smile Month, why not take time out of a busy schedule this summer to have a consultation with your dental hygienist and therapist? We are perfectly placed to advise you on your oral health and help you turn that frown upside down!
Healthy month for healthy mouths
National Smile Month runs from 18 May until 18 June and is aimed at improving the nation's oral health.
The three key messages are:
- Brush your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste
- Cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks
- Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Dos and dont's
- Don't worry - dentists and their teams are not judges. They are there to professionally guide you to an improved, healthier smile
- Do tell your dental surgery if you're nervous - there are ways they can help put you at ease
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. They love 'talking teeth'!
- Do talk about any embarrassing problems such as bad breath and bleeding gums if there are areas of your mouth you have trouble cleaning. By discussing them with a dental professional, you're one step closer to improving your smile!
- Don't put off that dental visit any longer. The friendly dental team is there to offer you tailor-made dental health advice and health care so book that long-overdue appointment today!