October is National Dental Hygiene Month! It's the perfect time of year to talk about the surprising thoroughness of oral health and overall health care you can expect during your dental hygiene visit.
Patients tell us all the time how shocked they are at how completely they felt taken care of by their dental hygienist. Your hygienist is an expert in today's top oral health trends, as well as the key connection between oral and overall health.
At First Choice Dental, the bulleted list of services below is a standard part of your dental hygiene visit twice each year. If this isn't what you're used to at the typical dental hygiene check, it may be time for a change to our complete health approach. Schedule an appointment anytime and check us out!
Dental hygiene is “more than a cleaning”.
It's a critical part of dental wellness and overall wellness too. Today’s dental hygienists are on the forefront of ensuring not only their patient’s dental wellness, but offering insight and monitoring indictors of their patient’s overall health as well.
Statistics show that 20 million Americans will see a dentist this year, but will not see a primary health care provider. A generally healthy person who may or may not see their doctor annually may actually spend more time – twice a year – with a dentist and hygienist, than with any other health care provider.
Though a visit to the dentist will never replace a medical examination, often a hygienist may note changes in dental health that may be an indicator of a more serious health problem. Severe pocketing of the gums may indicate a concern about diabetes; unmanaged periodontal disease may aggravate a heart condition, or lesions in the mouth may spark a concern about oral cancer.
Dr. Christine Haag, a dentist with First Choice Dental’s east Madison office on Corporate Drive, notes the important relationship between patients and their hygienists. She says, “An important aspect beyond semi-annual hygiene visits is the opportunity they present to start a conversation about health.” She explains, “If one of our hygienists or dentists notices a change in a patient’s oral or dental health that may be linked to other health changes or concerns, we will always recommend they follow-up with a visit to their medical provider.”
Dental offices such as First Choice Dental whose staff is committed to supporting their patients’ overall wellness may offer the following wellness and preventive measures beyond teeth cleanings.
Surprisingly Thorough Care You Should Expect at your Dental Hygiene Visit
- Update x-rays as needed
- Develop complete health history that assesses early risk factors for diabetes, heart health, and other systemic health issues
- Clean teeth to help ensure optimal dental health, avoid tooth decay and remove bacteria that can worsen decay
- Take blood pressure if indicated by patient’s health history
- Check for gum recession and pocketing as key changes of gum and overall health
- Conduct exam to check for lumps or changes around the mouth as well as on throat, jaw and neck that could indicate change in health
- Provide oral cancer screening if recommended based on patient’s health
- Develop a periodontal health maintenance program – can be especially important for patients with diabetes or other systemic health conditions
Dr. Haag says, “Sometimes our mouths speak volumes without saying a word. Your dentist or hygienist can help interpret those messages and help guide you on a path to dental and overall wellness.”
October and fall in general is a great time to check in with your dentist to plan for dental care before the end of the insurance year, which is also the end of the calendar year. Your dentist can also help you plan ahead for next year’s care costs so that you can appropriately allocate flex or health savings account dollars.
We even know of patients who time their twice-annual dental hygiene visits for when the time change happens. So the fall back-spring ahead prompt reminds them it’s time for a trip to the dental hygienist! Hey, if it works for changing batteries in smoke detectors, it could work for something as important as regular smile care!