A Guide for Those Who Haven't Visited the Dentist in a While

Jan 11, 2024 by Mills Haven Dental

A Guide for Those Who Haven't Visited the Dentist in a While

A Guide for Those Who Haven't Visited the Dentist in a While

Maintaining oral health is critical to overall well-being but often underestimated until problems arise. Regular dental visits prevent such issues, allowing early detection and treatment of potential oral health problems. You might feel apprehension and guilt if it's been a while since your last dental visit. Rest assured, this guide is designed to support and reassure you, providing the necessary insights to make your return to dental care as seamless as possible. This blog will discuss the importance of regular check-ups, what to expect during your visit, and how to overcome anxiety about returning to the dentist's chair. So, let's embark on this journey to reclaim your radiant smile.

Understanding the Impact of Skipping Dental Visits

Why Regular Dental Check-Ups are Important

Routine dental check-ups are crucial to overall health, not just about maintaining an aesthetically pleasing smile. During these visits, dentists clean your teeth and check for early signs of oral health issues, including gum disease, cavities, and oral cancer. Early detection of these conditions allows for more effective and less invasive treatment. Check-ups also allow dentists to advise on maintaining oral hygiene, dietary impacts on oral health, and addressing habits such as nail-biting or teeth grinding.

Potential Consequences of Prolonged Dental Absence

Neglecting regular dental visits can lead to a variety of oral health issues. Minor problems such as plaque and tartar build-up can escalate into tooth decay and gum diseases if left untreated. Unnoticed cavities can deepen, leading to severe toothaches, infections, and even tooth loss. Inadequate oral care can also result in bad breath and discoloration of teeth. More serious conditions like oral cancer often do not cause pain or become visible until they are advanced, making regular check-ups vital for early detection and successful treatment.

Preparing for Your Return to the Dentist

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

If the thought of a dental visit makes you anxious, know that you're not alone. Dental anxiety is a common concern, but there are ways to manage it. Start by acknowledging your fear as a valid emotion. Next, communicate your anxiety to your dentist; a good dental practitioner will take the time to make you feel comfortable and explain procedures in detail. Practice deep breathing exercises and visualization techniques to help you stay calm during your appointment. Also, consider bringing a friend or family member along for moral support.

What to Expect During Your Visit

After a long absence, your dentist will most likely conduct a comprehensive oral examination. This includes checking your teeth for cavities, inspecting your gums for signs of gum disease, and performing an oral cancer screening. They will also likely take X-rays for a detailed view of your teeth and jaw. A professional cleaning may be performed to remove any plaque or tartar build-up. It's a painless procedure but can take longer if you haven't visited the dentist.

Questions to Prepare for Your Dentist

Preparing questions before your visit can ensure you get the most out of your appointment. You might ask your dentist about the state of your oral health and any visible issues. Inquire about preventative measures you can take to avoid future problems. If a treatment is recommended, ask about the procedure, its benefits, and potential risks. You might want to question what changes you should make in your diet or oral care routine for better dental health. And finally, always ask when you should schedule your next visit.

At-Home Dental Care Tips

Revamping Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Regular and effective oral hygiene is a cornerstone of dental health. Begin with brushing your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed, using fluoride toothpaste. Each brushing session should last for about two minutes. Don't neglect your tongue; bacteria can accumulate there and contribute to bad breath and other oral health problems. Floss daily to remove food residues and plaque from between your teeth and under the gum line, where your toothbrush can't reach. If floss is challenging, consider a dental pick or an interdental brush. Also, rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to help kill bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.

Choosing the Right Dental Products

Selecting Appropriate Dental Care Products

  1. Toothpaste: Always opt for toothpaste that contains fluoride. Different types cater to specific needs, such as toothpaste for sensitive teeth, whitening toothpastes, or those targeting plaque control.
  2. Toothbrush: Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles to prevent gum damage. Manual or powered depends on personal preference, but ensure it is comfortable to hold and fits well in your mouth. Replace it every three to four months.
  3. Floss: Find a gentle floss on the gums that is strong enough not to break or shred. If flossing is inconvenient, consider alternatives like dental picks or interdental brushes.
  4. Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouthwash can supplement brushing and flossing by killing bacteria that cause plaque and gum disease.

Everyone has unique dental needs, so what works for one person may not be the best option for another. Consult your dentist to select the most effective products for your oral health.

Dietary Considerations for Oral Health

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

  1. Sugary Foods and Drinks: Foods high in sugar, such as candies and chocolates, contribute to tooth decay by creating an environment that allows harmful bacteria to thrive. Similarly, sugary drinks, including sodas and fruit juices, can damage tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
  2. Starchy Foods: These convert to sugar in the mouth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. Foods like bread, pasta, and potato chips can also get stuck in your teeth, making them risky for cavities.
  3. Alcoholic Beverages: Alcohol can dry out your mouth, causing bad breath and other oral health issues. It can also stain your teeth and increase the risk of oral cancer.
  4. Coffee and Tea: These beverages can stain your teeth and, if sweetened, contribute to tooth decay.
  5. Acidic Foods and Drinks: Acidic foods and drinks, like citrus fruits and wine, can erode tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to decay.

Remember, moderation is key. Avoiding these foods and drinks completely is unnecessary, but try to limit your intake and maintain good oral hygiene practices.

A Guide for Those Who Haven't Visited the Dentist in a While

Nutrients That Promote Healthy Teeth and Gums

  1. Calcium: Essential for strong teeth and bones. Dairy products, fortified non-dairy alternatives, leafy green vegetables, and almonds are good sources.
  2. Phosphorus: Works with calcium to strengthen teeth and jaw bones. It can be found in meat, poultry, fish, milk, and egg sources.
  3. Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Sun exposure helps the body produce vitamin D, but it can also be obtained from fatty fish, liver, fortified dairy products, and egg yolks.
  4. Vitamin A: Necessary for maintaining the health of mucous membranes and gums. It can be sourced from beef liver, fish, milk, eggs, and orange and green leafy vegetables.
  5. Vitamin C: Essential for maintaining the health of gums, preventing gingivitis, and healing wounds in the mouth. It is abundant in citrus fruits, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.
  6. Fluoride: Helps prevent tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars. It is found in fluoridated water, fish, and most teas.

Addressing Common Dental Issues

Identifying and Dealing with Tooth Pain or Sensitivity

Tooth pain or sensitivity is often a symptom of underlying dental issues. It can be triggered by hot, cold, sweet, acidic foods and drinks or by breathing in cold air. If you're experiencing tooth sensitivity, try using a toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth. Limit acidic foods and drinks and avoid tooth grinding. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help manage the discomfort. But remember, these are temporary solutions. Persistent sensitivity or pain is a signal that you should visit your dentist.

When to Seek Immediate Dental Care

Certain dental issues necessitate immediate professional attention. You should seek immediate dental care if you experience severe pain or discomfort that doesn't subside, have a loose or knocked-out tooth, or suffer from swelling in your jaw or mouth. Additionally, signs of infection, such as fever, foul taste or smell in the mouth, or pus, should be promptly addressed. If you have trouble breathing or swallowing, contact emergency services immediately. These symptoms could indicate more serious problems that require professional treatment.

Making Dental Care a Priority

Setting Up a Dental Care Plan

Regular dental visits are crucial to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. They allow for early detection of problems and timely treatment, saving you from discomfort and potentially high treatment costs in the future.

  1. Establish a Regular Schedule: The common recommendation is to visit the dentist every six months, but your dentist may suggest more frequent visits depending on your oral health status.
  2. Prioritize Preventative Care: Regular cleanings and check-ups are critical to prevention. During these visits, your dentist can detect early signs of dental issues such as tooth decay or gum disease.
  3. Follow Up on Treatment Plans: Following through with your dentist’s recommended treatment plan is important if you have ongoing dental issues. Missing appointments can lead to the progression of the issue and more complex treatment.
  4. Develop a Relationship with Your Dentist: Trust and communication with your dentist can alleviate anxiety associated with dental visits and help you feel more comfortable discussing oral health concerns.

Remember, making dental care a priority today can save you from pain and expense tomorrow. Start building your dental care plan with the help of your dentist.

The Long-Term Benefits of Regular Dental Visits

Preventive Care and Its Advantages

Preventive dental care is a proactive approach to oral health, aiming to identify and manage potential dental problems before they become significant. The long-term benefits of this approach are numerous. Firstly, you can avoid painful conditions such as tooth decay or gum disease, which could lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Additionally, frequent dental visits can result in cost savings as preventing dental issues is less expensive than treating them after they have progressed. Regular dental cleaning procedures also contribute to a brighter, healthier smile, enhancing your self-confidence and quality of life.

The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health

Oral health extends far beyond the mouth; it significantly impacts your overall health. Numerous studies have linked oral diseases, especially gum disease, to other health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. For instance, the bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of the body, leading to cardiovascular disease. Regular dental check-ups can help detect these issues early and provide the necessary treatment to maintain oral and overall health. Prioritizing oral health is, therefore, a step towards promoting complete wellness.


Maintaining good oral health is vital for your overall well-being. A balanced diet enriched with vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins D, A, C, and fluoride is key in fortifying and preserving the health of your teeth and gums. Regular dental visits enable early detection and intervention of potential issues, saving costs and avoiding painful conditions in the long run. Remember, certain symptoms such as tooth pain, severe discomfort, and signs of infection necessitate immediate dental attention. Moreover, the link between oral health and systemic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis further underscores the importance of prioritizing dental care.

Do not hesitate to contact a dental professional today and schedule your next visit. You're not just investing in a healthy smile but a healthier future. It's an important step; remember, every journey begins with that first step. You can promote your overall wellness, starting with your oral health.

Contact us at Mills Haven Dental to book your appointment. Our passionate dentists in Sherwood Park take great joy in creating beautiful and healthy smiles every day! We enthusiastically welcome new patients and would be delighted to assist you with your oral health needs.