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Why you should visit your dentist at least twice a year

 It is advisable that one visits a dentist at least twice a year. [iStockphoto]

Oral health is majorly overlooked by so many of us when it comes to our general wellbeing. The cost of treatment could be a major issue but there are a number of other factors that also come into play. What we might not realise is if some oral health issues are left unaddressed, they cumulatively result in long-term undesirable outcomes.

It is advisable that one visits a dentist at least twice a year but even more in situations where there are a number of oral health concerns to be addressed.

A child, for instance, should have a first visit to the dentist within the first six months from when their first tooth appears. This is to ascertain that both the teeth and the soft tissues are developing well and that there is not much of concern for both child and parent. Regular visits for children are scheduled owing to the nature of their teeth and their susceptibility to decay.

Tooth decay is one of the common oral issues. There are preventive measures against tooth decay such as fissure sealing, use of flowable material to seal deep grooves in the back teeth to prevent food packing that could easily result in decay. Regular fluoride application is recommended based on one’s susceptibility to decay.

Teeth cleaning appointments can be taken into consideration, fabrication of space maintainers in case of a lost tooth to avert crowding of teeth later on due to drifting of teeth into spaces, fabrication of appliances such as mouthguards or orthodontic appliances to prevent alignment issues in the future.

More often than not, we ignore the mild sensitivity that we sometimes feel on our back teeth, or the mild pain that comes and goes, or the bleeding when we brush. What we don’t realise is, those could be indicators of major underlying issue that could easily be picked out and sorted by visiting a dentist.

Sensitivity, the uncomfortable feeling in response to hot or cold or sour sensations on your teeth when you take fluids could be an early indicator of a cavity, gum recession or a blurring red light to some habits such as excessive consumption of acidic drinks that erode the tooth substance or even just inappropriate technique of brushing that hurts your gums and exposes that part of the tooth that shouldn’t be exposed.

That mild pain you feel that comes and goes could be an indicator of a cavity on your tooth that needs attention before it progresses resulting into a more robust treatment modality or even ultimately losing the tooth. 

Bleeding gums when brushing is never normal, as much as most people don’t get alarmed by this, it’s an indicator of gum disease that progresses slowly or faster in some people resulting in a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. 

A lot of these issues are easily overlooked and patients present themselves to the dentist when a situation is advanced, yet it doesn’t need to get there, all these can be addressed early during biannual visits. Awareness around oral health still needs to be raised including proper brushing techniques. So, have you visited a dentist this year?

Dr Kirui is a dentist at City Health Hospital

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