You’ve probably heard these sayings since childhood: A stitch in time saves nine. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
The English language is replete with cautionary wisdom, easily remembered sayings meant to teach us that thoughtful action, taken in a timely fashion, will save us from potentially harmful and/or expensive outcomes.
This lesson has never been more important as we all cautiously navigate our way through the challenges of this pandemic. While we must all be as careful as possible by following the guidelines for masks, distancing, hand washing and vaccination, it is also imperative that we visit our health care providers for preventive and health maintenance appointments.
Over the last 11 months, virtual consultations have helped fill the gap with our physicians. But there is no virtual substitute for annual physicals, eye exams and especially preventive dental care. Despite the challenges we face with the virus, everyone in the family has ongoing preventive and restorative dental needs.
Children: As baby teeth are lost and adult teeth emerge, timely cleanings, sealants, fluoride treatment and orthodontic evaluation are critical to maintain children’s healthy teeth and gums. Delays and missteps at this time can result in amplification of otherwise minor conditions.
Teens: Teenagers are at highest risk for developing new tooth decay between dental visits because they are the largest consumers of sugary drinks; they have the least consistent home care habits (especially while in braces); and they are notoriously resistant to parental oversight of their dietary choices. When these factors combine, they often result in the rapid formation of cavities between the teeth and along the gum line.
Adults: In adults, tooth decay and gum disease tend to be slow and silent. Despite good intentions, many adults fall into bad habits during long absences from the dental office. A visit every six months allows watchful management of the health of teeth and gums. Prevention and early detection of decay and gum disease are critical to lifelong dental health.
Seniors: Older adults face the same issues as other adults but seniors also have a higher risk of root cavities. Age and certain medications can lead to chronic dry mouth, which can accelerate root decay and gum disease. Regular check-ups combined with prescription strength fluoride gel is a very effective way to preserve the health of remaining teeth and the stability of the bridges and partials many seniors rely on to chew properly.
Your health professionals have worked very hard to make their offices as safe as humanly possible for their patients so that we can all return to a world where prevention is indeed the best medicine. Healthy smiles, teeth and gums don’t happen by accident! Schedule your family for their routine dental examinations today.