23-Jul-2014

What’s in a dental checkup?

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I was reminded this week of the what a brilliant tool the humble dental checkup is…(assuming it is carried out with some thoroughness and enthusiasm)..
Often I think patients wonder why we do it?

And listening to the dentist counting teeth with the nurse repeating the numbers and tapping away on a keyboard, it must feel like a bit of waste of time for some….and it would be if all we did was look.

(Guess what – if all we do is look, it only takes 3 minutes….and in my opinion we may as well just take a photograph and send the patient home).

Looking for change

But the value of a decent dental check up is often about looking back and – probably more importantly – looking forwards. A good dentist will look in the mouth and compare the current situation to the last check up – looking for change. Change can be good (eg less plaque, better brushing, flossing etc) or change can be bad (fillings wearing out, crowns cracking etc). Often though the real value is in crystal gazing.

We all wish we could predict the future – well in dentistry it’s actually not that hard. Careful examination and an up to date dental examination history will give strong clues as to how long our teeth and our dentistry will last.

The positives for the patient are that:
-they can focus their resources on dealing with issues that need immediate attention (ensuring they stay out of pain and continue to be able to eat a normal diet and smile at people)
-they can plan ahead for problems ‘on the horizon’ ie 6, 12, 24 months and even 5 or 10 years ahead.

A good dentist can give you realistic predictions about the longevity of your teeth and dentistry for years ahead.

Long range forecasting ultimately brings peace of mind.

So what?

Well I think in the end it’s all about being mentally prepared. When issues have been predicted well in advance and then happen, people feel ok with it. It’s not a shock, some patients may even have been quietly building their rainy day fund in expectation…

Knowing is better, and less expensive, than not knowing. And that’s why we developed our dental plan

So even the worst problems have been dealt with in advance and managed correctly it is that preparedness which brings peace of mind.

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