I honestly think that the general population doesn’t understand that their mouth is part of their body. — Danine Fresch Gray, DDS, general dentist, Arlington, Virginia
9 Thoughts Your Dentist Has When He Looks At Your Teeth
What do dentists really think when they’re looking inside your mouth? Probably not what you would expect. Check out these dental-related true confessions of what your dentist usually thinks, and learn the truth about the industry (and how mainstream society is often riddled with outdated dental misconceptions).
1. “Let me help you make a great impression on everyone you meet.”
Your eyes are the first thing people notice. Your teeth are the second. Your hair is third. Yet, most people spend way more on their hair than on their teeth.
Healthy teeth are attractive teeth. Don’t shortchange yourself.
2. “We should do this more often.”
Depending on your unique needs and saliva pH balance (yes, that’s a thing), twice a year in the dentist’s office might not be enough for you. This is often a surprise to people, as 42% of people don’t even go to their dentist once a year.
Standard dental insurance comes with two appointments per year, so people assume that’s the magic number for someone with healthy teeth and gums. However, 42% of U.S. adults over the age of 30have periodontitis. 7.8% of the population has severe periodontitis. If you have any degree of periodontitis, you should visit your dentist more often. (Isn’t it interesting that the percentage of people with periodontitis matches the percentage of people who don’t come to the dentist often enough?)
How do you know if you have periodontitis? Not by staying out of the dentist’s office, that’s for sure. Periodontitis is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions and can cause enormous health problems if left untreated (both orally and for the rest of your body).
3. “Most insurance is outdated.”
Many insurance companies haven’t changed their coverage in decades. The amount of money that used to cover a lot will probably not even cover a single crown now. As consumers, we deserve a major overhaul of the system. Dentists hate to see people disappointed with their insurance, and many have recognized that insurance companies are slow to change. Because of this, more and more dentists are partnering with CareCredit to provide their patients with the option to finance their care in affordable monthly payments.
4. “Bleeding gums can be a sign of diabetes.”
If you’re honest about your oral hygiene and you’re doing all the right stuff, bleeding gums can be a sign of diabetes. If, however, you’re just not flossing and brushing properly, then it’s harder to know whether your bleeding gums are from poor hygiene or are a sign of diabetes.
If bleeding gums are a persistent problem for you, talk to your dentist about your oral hygiene, so they can recommend next steps and rule out diabetes (if possible).
5. “Your gums can help us detect oral cancer.”
By scheduling frequent checkups, your dentist can increase the chances that potentially cancerous or precancerous lesions are caught early, which gives you better odds of a successful treatment. These tiny white or pink lesions are usually not detectable by the patient. They don’t hurt, and they are often in areas of your mouth that are hard to see, like underneath your tongue.
6. “We’re mindful of your overall health.”
Your dentist doesn’t only pay attention to your teeth and gums; they also look at how your teeth fit into your overall health. From periodontitis and cardiovascular disease to oral cancer and diabetes, they can often help you diagnose and even head off major concerns if you visit them enough. But if you haven’t been in for a checkup in a long time, don’t let that stop you. Dentists make it a point not to judge.
Taking care of periodontal health is also a must for expectant mothers. It will help the baby have a healthier birth weight. Gum disease can trigger a chemical compound called prostaglandin that interferes with healthy fetal growth.
See what we mean about the average person not realizing that their mouth is an important part of the rest of their body? Oral health can be an indicator of overall health, and taking care of oral health can also be part of holistic prevention of diseases.
7. “Taking our advice on recommended care will save you from having to spend more in the future.”
Rejecting recommended care will only mean you need even more care in the future. Taking care of issues now will prevent you from having to spend more later, and prevention is preferable to repair. Dentists might make more money from procedures like crowns and implants, but their real desire is to allow you to keep the teeth you have. It’s healthier and less problematic. Thankfully, the dental profession has advanced to the point where dentists can accomplish miracles in restorative dentistry, but the real miracle is keeping a mouth healthy for life. It’s what many dentists signed up for.
8. “We can get rid of that headache.”
Misalignment of teeth can cause headaches. Many dentists are experts at realigning the jaw and sending the headaches packing. I’ve had enormous success with this in my Dallas practice, and I can consult with you to see if your headaches and migraines are caused by the temporomandibular joint being out of alignment. For more on this, see our articles on TMJ and TMJ-related migraines.
9. “We do what we do because we want to serve people.”
Dentists have different reasons for doing what they do, but most dentists have, at their core, a true desire to serve and help others. We understand how important teeth and gum health are to people’s overall well-being, and we want to help educate, prevent disease, and restore confidence. For more about why I, Dr. Alhadef, went into dentistry, check out my story here. It’s all about how I love helping people and the art of dentistry.