When I was a kid, I never knew what to expect at the dentist. I was a bundle of nerves the moment I sat in the car, knowing that my mom or dad was driving me towards a scary moment. The Dentist’s office was a fairly noisy place to be, what with drills firing up, and those little vacuum tubes that hang from the side of your mouth. Not ashamed to say that I was known to shed a tear or two in a Dentist’s chair. I spent two years without visiting a dentist, but the ‘adult’ me said, “That’s just not cool yo,” and I’m glad I listened to myself. Here’s why…
It’s about your teeth, but not.
I found myself a new dentist, ‘cause I was worried that I was ruining my teeth. Forget gums, and that big keyword, “gingivitis”. I like being social, and that usually meant smiling in public at some point. But I was becoming cautious, each time someone told me a good joke, or relayed an amazing sale, I would smile without showing too much teeth, because I didn’t want to scare people away with my smile.
So I found myself a new dentist. One that took me by utter surprise, and put all my ill-conceived notions of dentistry to rest.
I quickly learned that, while it’s a nice goal to have perfect, straight, pearly white teeth, that’s only a small portion of what a dentist does to help keep your health in check. A quarterly or biannual checkup with a dentist can improve both your physical and mental well-being as well (not to mention your social “health”, as it’s always easier to smile after a check-up!)
One aspect that I hadn’t known, until I found my new dentist (whom I love to *bits* now), is that they can detect and help prevent heart-related diseases (there seems to be a correlation between unchecked gum disease and the health of your heart,) and can even proactively search for signs for oral cancers during your exam.
Steps to Helping Your Dentist Help You
Some other tips that my dentist keeps reminding me during each exam is that:
- You’re better at avoiding gum disease by brushing for 2-3 mins at least twice a day and flossing twice a day;
- A balanced diet including whole grains, fruits & veggies, and lean meats helps too;
- Try to unwind from stress (it effects both mind & body);
- Don’t smoke/do drugs. And if you do take any sort of medications/vitamins, its crucial to let your dentist know;
- Wear a mouth guard, especially if you play contact sports or simply grind your teeth while you sleep (I’m SO guilty of that, and will soon be fitted with one);
- And see your dentist regularly! They can detect, diagnose, treat/prevent problems that you may not know you have
Finding the Right Dentist for You
Really, you should. It should be a no-brainer thing to say, but dentists are all different. If you’re currently not seeing one, then go find one. Seriously. Look around if you need to. Talk to your friends and family, and ask them for recommendations.
When I found my current dentist with Jay (TheHubs,) I made sure that my family (parents and siblings) all made appointments with this new office, and what a difference it’s been for everyone!
What do I like about my dentist? The first few appointments, I was continuously warned before being poked and prodded.
The unknown was a psychological fear, and luckily it’s something that my current dentist recognized, not just for me, but for all of their patients.
I was thoroughly shocked when I hardly felt any pain at all, checkup after checkup, simply because my dentist would keep me informed of what they were doing, while it happened. And the checkups all followed the same routine, so after a while, I knew exactly what to expect each and every time.
I’m no longer terrified to go.
This current dentist also has a fab sense for distraction. Along with great tunes to listen to on an easy-listening radio station, they also have TVs built into the ceiling, where you can choose what to watch. I don’t always get a chance to keep up with the news throughout the day, but for an hour and 11 minutes, I get to lay back and see what’s going on in my city every three months!
Oral health wasn’t something I had understood, not until I had a dentist that was willing to explain how integrate our teeth and gums are to our overall health. It’s weird to think now, that even in my early twenties, I thought we all went to a dentist for vanity’s sake of a beautiful smile.
Have you been to your dentist lately? If not, drop everything and call your dentist to book your next appointment now! Or, if you don’t have a dentist? Click here to find one.
Although this post has been generously sponsored by the Ontario Dental Association, the opinions and language are my own, and in no way do they reflect the Ontario Dental Association.