By Dr. Shelia Shah
Feeling guilty about how long it has been since you last saw a dentist?
How long HAS it been? Do you avoid this vital part of your family’s health?
Let’s face it. You know you should. But often you don’t. Yet there’s no need to feel guilty. A large percentage of the rest of the population sometimes falls short here too, although visiting the dentist – at least once every six months – should be an essential part of each person’s overall health plan.
Many parents, even while ensuring their children receive proper dental care, will often skimp when it comes to their own care. It’s also understandable, particularly in this economy, that parents may reason trips to a doctor or dentist can be avoided unless there is pain or a need for immediate attention.
But the early diagnosis of problems can go a long way in actually saving you money! Early and regular checkups are less costly in the end than trying to fix a problem once it has intensified. Dental disease and gum disease don’t go away when you skip visits. They only get worse and MORE costly. The need for a minor dental filling, if left untreated over time, can progress to the need of a root canal, a crown or bridge. (That’s not even counting the physical cost of suffering through the problem until it HAS to be rectified eventually anyway!) So why not potentially forgo even the cost of the minor filling by taking the less costly route of preventive care? Preventive screenings and routine visits are much more minimally invasive on both the person AND the pocketbook.
Regardless of the reason for postponing care, no one likes to be lectured or berated, and that includes the areas of dental health and home care. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve put off seeing your dentist – or how severely you may feel you’ve failed to floss. A good dentist will be supportive and encouraging of your decision and desire to seek current care for your teeth. The objective for the dentist is to help you keep those teeth for a lifetime.
“Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed about having neglected your teeth,” says Dr. Sheila Shah of MaconSmiles. “Just recognize you can change that today with a little action. A simple phone call to schedule a regular dental visit will easily get you back on the road to successfully caring for your smile.”
Your dentist wants to ensure you feel comfortable in every way, so you needn’t fear chastisement about how long it’s been since you or your family last visited their office. They will simply be glad you’ve chosen to give attention to your smile and assist you with the needs at hand. The role of your dentist is to help educate and assist you with making informed decisions regarding your family’s oral health. After a brief examination, your dentist should be able to explain your options and offer the pros and cons of each approach, in a friendly and non-judgmental manner.
Meanwhile, in addition to visiting a dentist, here are some tips for improving your family’s dental health:
• Brush twice a day with ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque – that sticky film on teeth – which is the leading cause of tooth decay. Also, don’t forget to clean the tongue!
• Floss daily to remove plaque between your teeth and under the gum line – before it can harden into tartar. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
• Eat a well-balanced diet limiting starchy or sugary foods, which produce plaque acids that cause tooth decay. When you do eat such foods, try to eat them with your meal instead of as a snack – the extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from the mouth.
• Avoid exposure to acidic candies, foods, and beverages which may lead to erosion. Teeth are susceptible to wear. Exposure just before bedtime has been shown to be the most harmful.
• Use sugarless gum and mints to stimulate saliva which naturally protects teeth.
If it has been quite some time since you or your kids were last in a dental chair, you’ll be delighted to know that numerous advancements in the industry have also made the experience much less stressful. Most dental fillings can now be completed without the use of anesthesia. Laser-assisted dentistry allows professionals to more comfortably restore patients’ smiles with NO SHOTS, NO DRILLS, and NO NUMB LIPS! It also conserves more of the healthy tooth structure, and saves time, letting patients get out of the dental chair more quickly. Less pain and less anxiety, coupled with faster healing from the laser make this practice popular among patients of every age.
Know that your dentist is there to help you and your family maintain good oral health. A visit to his or her office should be pleasant and guilt-free. So go ahead. Do today what you’ve been putting off. Schedule a hassle-free checkup and check it off your to-do list. You’ll be glad you did!
If you’re looking for “Guilt-Free Dentistry” in Macon, contact Dr. Sheila Shah and her staff at MaconSmiles. They can be reached at (478) 845-1447, or visit their website at MaconSmiles.com.