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Oral Health

Making the Most of Your Next Dental Visit

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Neil J. Gajjar, D.D.S., M.A.G.D.

President, Academy of General Dentistry

“By having a relationship with your dentist, you are involving yourself in your treatment plan, and making sure it works with your personal situation.”

Finding time to schedule regular appointments to maintain your oral and overall health can be difficult in this busy world we live in. Still, a general dentist may be the first line of defense against a range of maladies, since the first signs of many illnesses are often revealed in the mouth.

A regular exam allows your dentist to keep your mouth in tip-top shape and watch for developments that may indicate problems elsewhere in your body, such as poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems, and improper jaw alignment. At these visits your dentist can also counsel you on your unique oral health care needs, such as limiting or discontinuing tobacco use. Additionally, regular checkups for children, starting at age one, will safeguard them against problems like baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumb sucking, and help prevent cavities throughout their early years.

No issue is too small for your dentist to know

I want my patients to feel comfortable mentioning everything about their health, even if they don’t think it relates to their mouths. For example, your dentist should know if you have had surgery or a major illness in the past, so be sure to include this information in the medical history of your patient information section. I also strive to make sure my patients clearly understand how my dental practice can work with them, and encourage them to direct their questions about insurance coverage, billing options or other payment plans with me. We can discuss treatment options and plans, and ensure that they continue to have access to care.

Though regular dentist visits are the best way to ensure good, long-term oral health, people often don’t set aside the time to come into the office, for a variety of reasons. If you are relocating, finding a dentist in a new city or town can be a daunting task. Before moving, make sure to talk with your regular dentist to locate another practice that can assist you. We know that employers can change insurance providers often; if your insurance or treatment coverage plans are changing, you and your current dentist can work through this process together to make sure you will continue to be covered. 

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Good oral health is more than just a great smile

By having a relationship with your dentist, you are involving yourself in your treatment plan, and making sure it works with your personal situation. When engaging with a new dental office, feel free to reach out to them to see how they can help you maintain your oral health. In my practice, we will talk with patients about all their options and ensure that they don’t put off ongoing oral care needs. Dentists who see you regularly and are acutely aware of your history can spot and treat small problems before they become big ones. 

I tell my patients that good oral health means more than just a great smile: Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. That is because, in many cases, the condition of the mouth mirrors the condition of the body as a whole. A general dentist is the primary care provider for patients of all ages and is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of services related to patients’ oral health needs. There are so many ways we can help protect your oral and overall health.

For more information about the AGD or to find a general dentist today, please visit agd.org/patient-resources/find-an-agd-dentist.

Neil J. Gajjar, D.D.S., M.A.G.D., President, Academy of General Dentistry, [email protected]

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