Your Oral Health Care Plan
6. If you use tobacco products, quit.
Smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco products increases the risk of oral cancer and cancers of the larynx, pharynx and esophagus; gum disease; bad breath; tooth discoloration; and other oral and general health problems.
7. Examine your mouth regularly.
Become familiar with the appearance of your own mouth and teeth through frequent examination. This way, you will be able to catch any changes at an early stage and have these changes examined by a dentist. Look for the development of any spots, lesions, cuts, swellings, or growths on your gums, tongue, cheeks, inside of your lips, and floor and roof of your mouth. Examine your teeth for any signs of chipping or cracking, discoloration, and looseness. If you experience a change in your bite or develop pain, call your dentist as soon as possible. An oral exam is particularly important to conduct if you are a tobacco user, since you are at an increased risk of developing oral cancer.
8. Visit your dentist regularly.
The standard recommendation is to visit your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings. Talk with your dentist about the frequency that is best for you.
9. Develop a partnership with your dentist.
Don't be afraid to ask your dentist for more information if you don't understand a treatment or procedure. You should be able to have a free and frank discussion with your dentist. Here are questions you may want to ask:
- What are the treatment options for a particular dental condition?
- How do these options differ in cost and durability?
- Do all the options solve the problem? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each option?
- Of the dental treatments being recommended, which are absolutely necessary, which are less urgent, which are elective, and which are merely cosmetic?
- What are the consequences of delaying treatment?
- How much will the treatment cost?
- When is payment due?
- What method of payment does your dentist expect?
- Do you have a clear understanding of all fees and methods and schedules of payment?