Connie L. White, DDS, FAGD
President, Academy of General Dentistry
Oral health is about more than just a good smile. In many cases, the condition of the mouth mirrors the condition of the body as a whole. Because poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends establishing a dental home early in a patient’s life to maintain consistent dental care habits and protect your smile.
A roof over your head
What a dental home really is is an ongoing relationship between dentist and patient, one that takes into account all aspects of oral health care, delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way. Parents should establish a dental home for their child no later than a 12 months of age.
A dental home is usually established during the initial process of finding a dentist. General dentists, the gatekeepers of oral health, establish an early relationship with their patients, and are able to deliver coordinated and continuous care to patients in a more family-centered way. This is the beginning of patients understanding basic health information and the services needed to make appropriate decisions to sustain good oral health.
Sticking to it
Regular visits to your general dentist are key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Tooth decay and gum disease are the biggest risks for adults who don’t receive regular dental care.
Regular checkups for children, starting at age one, will safeguard them against problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumbsucking, and help prevent cavities throughout their early years.Building a relationship with a general dentist who sees you regularly and knows your history allows you to maintain your oral health and catch small problems before they become big ones.
General dentists are the primary dental care providers for patients of all ages. They can treat you and your entire family and care for your overall oral health. This is crucial to your total health. Your general dentist takes responsibility for the diagnosis, treatment, and overall coordination of services to meet your oral health needs. If you need a specialized dental procedure performed, your general dentist may work with other dentists to make sure you get the care you need.