Tooth decay is preventable. Through proper dental care, cavities and gingivitis can be minimized, if not prevented. The reality is that such dental health issues are still a problem worldwide.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) website states:
- Worldwide, 60-90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities.
- Globally, about 30% of people aged 65-74 have no natural teeth.
- Oral disease in children and adults is higher among poor and disadvantaged population groups.
To treat cavities, the dentist's option is to repair (recoverable) tooth with dental fillings. Once filled, the damaged tooth is restored to its shape and function. However, dental fillings come with its share of problems.
A study in 2015 - conducted by researchers from the Nordic Institute of Dental Materials in Oslo, Norway - and published in the Journal of Dentistry found that filling methods applied by dentists can affect neighbouring teeth. After examining over 700 tooth surfaces, the researched found that after a few years, 34 percent of adjacent tooth surfaces have shown signs of decay.
Researchers concluded that together with the patient's lack of knowledge on post-filling tooth care, the dentist's method of application compromises teeth.
The type of filling is also to blame, with silver amalgam fillings as the main culprit. First, dentists would have to carve the tooth to place the fillings and second, silver fillings expand and contract to heat and cold, causing cracks and tiny fractures on the treated (and nearby) teeth.
To avoid these and other health complications caused by mercury from silver fillings composites are recommended.
Fillings - as stressed by the researchers - is not the perfect treatment. The material used and the dentist's skill has to be taken into consideration. However, as we wait for future dental developments and treatments, it is still the most effective route to repairing the cavity-damaged tooth. Patients should also be taught that treatment does not end as soon as they step out of the dental office. People should also know the basics of proper dental care: brushing, flossing, regular dental visits, and a balanced diet - all help keep a set of healthy teeth.
Dental visits are important. Getting regular dental check-ups is part and parcel of maintaining overall health. When you go to the dentist, it is helpful and time-saving to come prepared with a set of questions (or observations) to ask your dentist.
So when you drop by for a check-up or treatment, here are major pointers to keep in mind.
Express your concerns clearly. Does your gum bleed when you brush? Do you feel pain when drinking cold or hot drinks? Make a note of the symptoms and relate them to your dentist.
Share your medical history. Any dental office should have an updated medical record of their patients. Certain illnesses or medicines (including vitamins and supplements) can cause complications with some procedures or prescribed meds. Also, sometimes it could help to share your dietary habits. Are you a vegetarian or a raw foodist? Do you love sweets? These things may seem negligible but it will help draw a clear picture of your overall dental health.
Do not be afraid to ask about the pros and cons of treatments. Remember that you have rights and as a patient, you have the right to be informed of treatment options. Your dentist should be able to discuss the side-effects and benefits of a suggested procedure. You shouldn't agree to a treatment unless you have all the information that you need.
Inquire about low-cost options. Don't be shy. When your finances are limited, inquire about affordable alternatives.
Ask for dental health tips. After a check-up or dental procedure, don't forget to ask your dentist for maintenance tips or anything related to oral health care. Even if it seems that your dental regimen is sufficient, there could be something you missed out and it is recommended that you always ask the pros for advice.
There you have it. Make the most out of your next dental visit.
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