If you visited a new doctor today, it’s likely they would ask you for a list of your family’s medical history. They’d be interested to know how many relatives you have with heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and so on, as well as your history. Armed with this information, your doctor could determine your risks and treat you more effectively.
The same is true of your dental health. We are all born with certain susceptibilities to dental problems. Some may be at risk of cavities, while others are at risk of gum disease.
This is never more obvious than when a husband and wife enter my practice. Without a doubt, there is always one in the pair who has a perfect check up, while the other will get a less-than-satisfactory report. The two are eating the same meals and following the same hygiene protocol – yet their results can be dramatically different because they have completely different dental risk profiles.
Understanding these risks is the goal of a new patient exam. During this exam, I sit down with the patient and get a thorough dental history. We discuss previous procedures, as well as family history and I begin to identify their vulnerabilities and risks. From there, I can start to develop strategies to help them achieve and/or sustain their dental health.
This is an important step in our practice because a patient who is genetically susceptible to cavities, for instance, will be treated much differently than someone who is not. We may recommend more diligent hygiene, as well as fluoride supplements and dietary restrictions. The earlier we can establish this plan, the better the results will be.
Over time, risks can also change due to outside circumstances. For instance, a patient who is going through a divorce or job change may start clenching and grinding their teeth due to stress. A change in diet can also change patients’ dental risks.
That is why it is so important to establish yourself with a dentist who knows your history and your risks. The better the dentist knows you, the more he or she will be able to help you maintain a healthy smile. In the end, you may not be able to change all your dental risks. However, you can change how you manage them.
Unsure of your dental risks? Call our office at (813) 689-4226 to schedule a new patient exam.