For many of us – especially those fortunate enough to not have needed a visit since childhood – the memories of the dentist’s chair are enough to send us into a crisis. Very few people, as adults or children, enjoy the idea of a trip to the dentist. Hopefully, that is enough to inspire us to take greater care of our teeth – but sometimes we’re not so lucky, and end up needing dental treatment anyway.
What is essential is that, when we are in that familiar chair, we pay attention to the things our dentist tells us. They know our mouths better than we know them ourselves, so keeping a listening ear and an open mind when your dentist is giving advice should be something you do automatically. In case you need any more convincing, though, here are five reasons that you should be listening closely when your dentist speaks.
1. They can see things developing that you cannot
Even if you are a diligent brusher, flosser and mouthwash user who takes care of your own teeth very well, you will have at best a partial view of the situation. You simply don’t have the distance from your teeth that is necessary to get a 360-degree view of what’s going on there. A dentist, on the other hand, has that distance and a small arsenal of tools that allows them to see everything even in the deepest recesses of your mouth; and when they see something that needs investigating, they will tell you.
Even with our own health it is easy to play “out of sight, out of mind”, but if your dentist flags something up for you to follow up on, you should listen. They can stop it developing into a “now” problem.
2. They can evaluate your brushing technique
It is amazing how many people take extra care brushing their teeth the morning of a dentist’s appointment, because they think it will hide a more careless regimen the rest of the time. Let’s be clear, you definitely should brush extensively on the morning of an appointment because it makes the dentist’s job easier. But it won’t hide longer-term neglect, and your doctor will be able to analyze the state of your teeth and offer advice on brushing. This advice is invaluable, and comes from an expert, so you should pay attention.
3. They can check out the extent of plaque in your mouth
From a look in the mirror, you can achieve a decent awareness of how well your teeth are looking and whether there is any action you need to take to improve their appearance. You won’t be able to see some things, though, because a lot of what goes on in your mouth just isn’t visible to the naked eye. Plaque, for one thing, can escape even a diligent brusher and, if allowed to build up, can contribute to a range of health issues that starts with tooth decay and gum disease, but can spread out beyond the mouth.
Your dentist can clean plaque from around the mouth and offer you indispensable advice on how to control its spread, so pay attention to anything they tell you on this front.
4. Dentists can identify health issues beyond their expertise
A look inside the human mouth can reveal more about a person’s health than most people realize. It’s no shock to learn that a dentist can identify gum disease or other oral issues, but they could also be the first person to become aware of symptoms of other health concerns. Concerns which, without early intervention, could become extremely grave. Your dentist may be the first person to notice signs and symptoms indicative of heart disease, diabetes, a number of cancers and even dementia. Listening to your dentist in this situation could literally save your life.
5. The more you listen, the fewer appointments you’ll need
If you want just one reason to listen to your dentist, then this should be the most persuasive – if you follow your dentist’s advice, you will need fewer interventions and fewer appointments. Ignore what they tell you, and you may find yourself needing acute treatment on an issue they highlighted to you months ago. As the old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Your dentist, through their cleanups and advice, will give you every chance to prevent serious dental problems and not need to go back for a cure. So, if you don’t enjoy spending time in the dentist’s chair, pay attention and follow their advice.