Cavities and periodontal (gum and bone) disease are the most common dental problems. Both are caused by bacteria and can be prevented from progressing by good oral care and regular dental visits. If your dentist and hygienist complete the following at every preventive visit, you can be assured that they are looking out for your smile and well-being:
- Discuss your medical history, including current medications, smoking status and oral hygiene habits.
- Discuss whether x-rays are needed to determine if there are cavities between the teeth and to look at the bone surrounding the teeth. A loss of bone is an indication of periodontal disease. Keep in mind that x-rays are not always necessary at every visit and x-rays should be limited. Cavities should be filled and sealants should be recommended for children whose back teeth have deep grooves.
- Feel for abnormalities on the outside of your face, mouth and neck, also looking carefully inside the mouth for signs of oral cancer.
- Check for pockets around your teeth with a tiny instrument that measures the depth of the space between the tooth and the gum. You and your provider should look for bleeding gums or redness, a sign of gingivitis or the beginning stages of gum disease.
If your dentist finds gum problems, it is very important that you work to improve your home care and eliminate risk factors such as smoking. Treatment will include scaling thoroughly below the gum to remove hardened plaque and bacteria, which are the source of the infection. This may require more than one visit, depending on the severity of your disease. Be sure to thoroughly discuss any treatment plans with your dentist, as well as the cost. Remember that most dental plans have a calendar year maximum. Contact your Plan to better help you prepare for necessary oral treatment and the corresponding expense.
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.