With the holidays coming up, I was asked to write an article on why we should have our teeth checked-out before we embark on our holiday journey (or, for some of us this means staying home).

The correct answer should be, we should have a dental check-up at least once a year, and not specifically before our holidays. There are however concerns that dental professionals will be away over Christmas and New Year period.  Should you be abroad, you are left to the mercy of chance if you have problems with your teeth.  You never know where you might end up getting your treatment done.  Heaven forbid! Thus, prevention is better than cure!  While you are still in the driving seat of your own decision-making, take the time, and have your yearly dental check-up! Please take note, that a check-up doesn’t entail a fifteen-minute appointment with your dentist prodding and poking in your teeth with sharp scary instruments, and then you’re all done.

A proper dental check-up should include the following:

1. Intra-oral photographs. These are photographs taken inside your mouth with a special camera that can take close-up shots of each tooth.  The dentist can very easily detect EARLY tooth decay (that would not even show up on x-ray at this stage).  This gives you and the dentist a bird’s eye view of the status of your teeth and gums.  Dentists can make better decisions when they can actually SEE the teeth close-up! Make sure your dentist has got one of these magnificent diagnostic tools!

2. Digital dental x-rays. If you are a role model patient that does go the dentist every year, you should have these digital x-rays taken every five years. These are priceless in detection of tooth decay, ill-fitting crowns, absess formation under root canal filled teeth and benign or malignant tumours. These include a panoramic x-ray as well as a set of x-rays tooth for tooth.  This is a small price to pay for the amount of information gathered.

3. A full scale and polish by a qualified oral hygienist. The oral hygienist can get you up to speed with your flossing and brushing technique and a good fluoride treatment. NOW you are good to go! The bottom line is, choose your dentist carefully (whilst your dentist is also not on holiday), have your yearly check-ups and sort out the problems before they sort you out on holiday!

Happy Holidays! Drive Safely

By Dr. Adé Meyer