Developing strong dental care goes beyond merely having your teeth checked a couple of times per year. To achieve optimal results and prevention for the health of your teeth, you should seek to develop a strong relationship with your dentist and be aware of what they believe are the best approaches to managing your dental care as well as what they practice to ensure you are receiving optimal treatment care. Below are some basic questions to ask your dentist to ensure your teeth are in the best hands.

1. How do you approach the science of dentistry?

Science comes in different levels of quality, with “expert opinion,” “animal studies” and “laboratory data” serving as the weakest, while strongest approach is referred to as”systematic review.” Certain practices specialize in making this type of research easily accessible and understandable to both dentists and their patients. High-quality science, integrated with your preferences and your dentist’s expertise, forms the foundation of sound approaches to your dental health.

2. How do you evaluate risk?

Risk assessment tools evaluate a person’s vulnerability to developing a disease. Risk assessment is a fairly new concept in dentistry but has been established in medicine for decades. Once a dentist has determined your level of risk for developing a disease, he or she then can employ preventive approaches to treat you appropriately, thereby helping you to avoid invasive and costly treatments later in life. Numerous tools are available to help dentists evaluate your risk of decay, gum disease and even oral cancer.

3. How do you customize treatment?

No two patients are alike. In the past, all patients, regardless of their health, were advised to have a six-month dental exam and cleaning of their teeth and gums. Now, with the use of risk assessment tools, a dentist may recommend you come in less frequently if you are healthy, or more frequently if you are at a higher risk for developing disease or have had significant dental health problems in the past.
In terms of children, experts recommend that babies have their first dental visits by age 1, or whenever the first tooth appears. Similar to regular baby check-ups with your child’s medical doctor, early preventive visits with the dentist are proven to thwart future disease.

4. What do you recommend for prevention?

Based on your individual risk for developing a disease, your dentist can recommend a medley of preventative measures. Examples include enhanced toothpaste use, gum treatment applications, advanced dental innovations, hard appliances and retainers and diet recommendations. Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

5. What do you do to maintain your education?

With more than 19 million biomedical articles on PubMed (a medical literature database that healthcare providers use), it’s no wonder that clinicians face a constant challenge to keep up on the quickly changing world of science.

In fact, because science evolves so fast and frequently, a clinician’s knowledge of best practices and treatment can actually decline over time — and unfortunately, they may be largely unaware of gaps in their knowledge. Like all healthcare professionals, your dentist should be striving to update her professional knowledge on a regular basis. The professionals at TLC Dentistry of Salinas take education seriously and invest greatly in their knowledge and expertise to ensure you receive optimal care.