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When Do I Visit the Dentist?

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As a general rule of thumb, people should visit the dentist about twice a year just for a checkup and cleaning. This is something that we have been hearing since we were young. Unfortunately, at one time or another we have fallen short of making that appointment, the dreaded dentist visit.

Dental visits are more than just going in for a mouth check up or cavities or crowns. They also play a role in general health, but for whatever reason people have fear of visiting the dentist. This feeling is completely understandable. When we go to the dentist, we find ourselves lying helplessly in a chair, looking up and only being able to see equipment that is being put into our mouths and then removed. We never really know 100% what is happening. In fact, the only thing that we can be sure of is that something is happening.

The dentist understands this anguish, and with that in mind seeks out individuals in his staff that can be of help in calming the patients. Beginning with the receptionist and dental nurse: these two roles are probably the most important. When the patient first arrives, he or she is in contact with one or both of these staff members. Naturally, the tone of the office is set.



Another individual that sets a tone is the dental sales representative. This role does so from a different perspective because the individual is rarely seen by the patients. The representative is responsible for ensuring that the office is fully equipped with proper supplies and other various tools that are utilized. The patient is already experiencing some anxiety. Should the office be under supplied this would just further grow the nervousness the patient is feeling. Could you imagine walking into the dentist office and lying in the chair and having Novocain run out on the doctor? All of a sudden, the question of whether this dentist is capable of completing the procedure enters the mind. After all, a simple thing like having enough supplies available for use should be the least of the problems.

The Dental Hygienist also plays a large role in patient care. Depending on what state the office is located, the duties will be determined. As a rule, the hygienist is required to have a certification. This process is a minimum of two years of schooling plus hours of on the job training.

The Dental Hygienist is an oral health professional, whose primary focus is on the prevention and treatment of diseases the patient may obtain. Other duties include but are not limited to:
  • Evaluation of health history, dental charts, oral cancer screening, and reviewing the possibilities of gum disease.

  • Reviewing dental x-rays (dental radiographs). The processing, exposing and interpretation of the results of the x-rays, is also a common task.

  • Plaque and tartar (calculus) removal are other expectations. The patient's dental visit habits will determine the type of process to be taken. Should the patient check out without a teeth cleaning a debridement may be suggested (plaque and tartar removal below the gum line). Otherwise just the basic procedure (above the gum line) will be performed.

  • Applying fluoride and/or sealants. These are solely to assist in the prevention of cavities.

  • Anesthetic and/or nitrous oxide may be necessary in some cases for surgery. The dental hygienist is responsible for the administration of these.

  • Patients need to be properly educated on appropriate oral and hygiene methods. This is important considering the value of health. The dental hygienist will be responsible in ensuring that this is enacted.

  • Ensuring that the patient is properly educated on at home procedures that are available to them. These programs assist in plaque control.

  • Administering and/or suggesting programs, which will assist the patient to quit smoking.

  • Ensuring that the patient is properly educated on good nutrition. Proper nutrition plays an optimal role in oral health and can assist in the prevention of oral diseases.
These are just some of the basic duties of the dental hygienist. As each state differs in the licensure of a dental hygienist, different functions may be required for dental hygienist who is located in Texas compared to one in Arizona.

Due to the amount of time that the dental hygienist will be spending with the patient, it is imperative that he or she have a tactful bedside manner. Although the dental hygienist is only one individual that the patient will encounter on a regular visit, a majority of the time will be spent with him or her.

The importance of dental hygiene is imperative to an individual's total health. When the time does come that the dental visit is no longer avoidable for whatever reason (regular check up, filling, a crown), at the very least an individual would probably feel a little more comfortable if the staff was welcoming.
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