Keeping track of your dental health is an important part of your overall health, and asking the right questions ensures you have the right information you need to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. Below are 10 questions you should ask your dentist at your next check-up. These questions will help you develop the best dental hygiene routine and make sure you know what steps to take to maintain your long-term dental health.

1. How can I improve the whiteness of my teeth?

Most people will experience some level of discoloration in their teeth over time. This discoloration can be caused by food and drink, such as coffee, tea, wine, and more, or by tobacco use. If you are unhappy with how your teeth look, you may consider treatments that will whiten your teeth. A whiter smile can greatly increase your confidence!

There are many at-home whitening products available at any drug store, however, you should keep in mind that over-the-counter whitening products like whitening strips, toothpastes, or mouthwashes can actually do more harm than good. Many of these kits can cause tooth sensitivity or damage the roots of your teeth.

If you are interested in whitening your teeth, ask your dentist about the whitening services they provide. By getting your teeth whitened by your dentist, you can be assured you are receiving high-quality, professional service that will provide a much more permanent solution, in a safe environment.

2. How often should I get a dental checkup?

The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you get a professional dental checkup twice a year, if your mouth is in excellent condition. Getting check-ups regularly ensures that any potential problems are identified early, allowing them to be treated before they become major issues.

However, dental health varies from person to person. If you are at higher risk for cavities or have other dental issues, you may need to get check-ups more often. Talk to your dentist to determine the treatment plan that is best for you and your dental health.

3. What can I do at home to keep my teeth and gums healthy?

It is crucial that everyone engages in daily brushing and flossing in order to maintain good oral health. Be sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing regularly, and taking overall good care of your teeth.

Ask your dentist if there are any specific types of toothbrushes or toothpaste that they recommend for you. They know what your dental health is like, so they will know what products will work best for your and help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.

4. Why should I have dental x-rays taken?

Having dental x-rays taken regularly helps your dentist examine and record your mouth’s hidden areas for issues and changes that occur between appointments. They can compare your x-rays over time to see what has changed and what could potentially be a problem. By keeping your x-rays up to date, you will be able to catch potential problems sooner.

Most people get bitewing x-rays once a year, and a full mouth series every 4 to 5 years. Just like check-ups, though, if you are at higher risk or have other issues, you may need to get x-rays more often than that.

5. How do I prevent tooth decay, gingivitis, and other problems?

The best way to avoid these issues is to follow a balanced diet and visit the dentist regularly. In addition to this, you can implement these steps into your dental hygiene routine:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day.

    Brushing your teeth every morning and every night is the most important element of your dental hygiene routine. Teeth brushing is vital in preventing the excessive plaque build-up that leads to cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.

  2. Use antibacterial mouthwash.

    The sugars and starches in your food and drinks react with the bacteria in your saliva to form an acid that herodes your tooth enamel. If you use an antibacterial mouthwash, you will reduce the bacteria levels in your mouth, lowering your risk of cavities or periodontal disease.

  3. Floss daily.

    Brushing your teeth is the best way to clean the surfaces of your teeth, but flossing ensures that food particles and anything else that might cause a cavity is removed from the small crevices between your teeth.

  4. Strengthen your enamel with fluoride products.

    Enamel is your tooth’s natural defence, and if that enamel wears away, your tooth becomes susceptible to cavities. Fluoride products (toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.) help to strengthen your tooth’s enamel and prevent cavities.

6. What is tooth sensitivity and why do I have it?

Tooth sensitivity is when you feel pain when consuming items that are hot or cold, sweet or acidic. This comes from thinned enamel, which is no longer protecting the tooth pulp or dentin from exposure to extreme temperatures. This thinning could be caused by receding gums, grinding your teeth in your sleep, chipped or fractured, orthodontics, or fillings.

7. When should dental implants be considered?

If you have a chipped or broken tooth, are experiencing weak or decaying teeth, or have lost a tooth completely dental implants could be a good option for you. Dental implants help prevent the remaining teeth from moving or loosening as a result of the lost or broken tooth. They bring back the natural and healthy functionality of your smile, and also look and feel just like your natural teeth.

Most adults are good candidates for implants, and they are a great alternative to dentures for those with an otherwise healthy mouth and jaw.

8. At what age should my child first see a dentist?

Studies show that children can develop their first cavities as early as two years old. Because of this, it is generally recommended that you book their first visit once their first tooth erupts, or, at the latest, the first birthday.

By starting early, you can catch potential problems that can affect the child’s overall health as more teeth erupt over time.

9. Is there anything I should discuss with my family doctor?

The mouth and your dental health can be a window to your overall health. There are many whole-body issues that can first display symptoms in your mouth. Certain changes in your mouth can be signs of conditions such as diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, or osteoporosis. Ask your dentist if they see any symptoms or changes in your dental health that you should tell your family doctor about.

Just like there may be things about your dental health your family doctor should know, you may need to tell your dentist if there are changes in your overall health, if they could affect your dental he. For example, if you start taking a medication that could cause dental complications, like dry mouth, make sure you let your dentist know.

10. What foods are good (and bad) for my teeth? Is there anything in my diet I should change?

Food plays a role in the health of your teeth and gums, just like it does in your general body health. Generally, a diet rich in protein, leafy greens, and whole fruit is great for your mouth, while foods that are overly surgery, sticky, or acidic can cause cavities and should be avoided. Beverages like coffee, tea, and wine can stain your teeth as well.

If you have concerns about how the foods you are eating might be affecting your dental health, talk to your dentist.