Where southern charm and warmth meets high tech dentistry.
Although we all know proper dental care is vital to good health, most people don’t know how to choose a good dentist for themselves. How can a non-dental person know what questions to ask before they choose a dentist? There are two main considerations that will affect your choice–how a dentist treats you as a person and how this dentist will treat your mouth. We suggest you consider these 10 questions to help you choose the quality dental care you need and deserve.
1. How can I directly ask the dentist questions?
If the dentist prefers that you usually speak to someone at the front desk or another staff person, then you should begin to wonder how important you are to this average dentist. An outstanding dentist who cares about you will be happy to answer your questions personally.
2. What is the dentist’s philosophy for performing dentistry?
An outstanding dentist will explain problems and options so you can take part in making decisions about your care. Rather than just telling you what to do, the dentist should explain the results of the exam and work with you to develop a total treatment plan based on the big picture of your oral health and wellness. The dentist and you should decide upon a plan that fits your timeline and your budget, that takes into account your insurance, and that is centered on your needs.
3. What sorts of dental materials does the dentist use?
The dentist should be using state-of-the-art materials accompanied with an understanding of the meticulous techniques required for the placement of these restorations. You want a dentist who can provide you with an esthetic, high-quality restoration using materials that will make your teeth look beautiful, comfortable, and long lasting.
4. What continuing education has the dentist had within the past year?
Outstanding dentists do not stop learning once they graduate from dental school. They keep up with the latest developments in their field by taking continuing education courses. While every state requires dentists to take a certain number of hours of continuing education every year, outstanding dentists take many more than the required number for licensure.
5. Does the dentist follow OSHA guidelines for infection control?
The answer should be an unequivocal yes. That means wearing gloves and a mask, as well as sterilizing hand pieces and all other dental equipment in the office.
6. Does the dentist seem genuinely interested in your general health situation?
The dentist should ask for a comprehensive medical history before beginning dental treatment. With a complete medical history, the dentist can determine allergies and possible drug interactions or intolerances.
7. Does the dentist do an oral cancer screening?
This should be routine at your initial exam and then followed up at every cleaning appointment. Your dentist needs to look not only at your teeth, but your entire mouth.
8. Does the dentist check thoroughly for gum disease, decay, and correct bite?
A thorough initial exam includes using a periodontal probe to probe for six points on each tooth–three on the cheek side and three on the tongue side–to check for the depth of possible bone loss caused by gum disease. A depth of over three millimeters indicates areas of concern. As a follow-up, the dental hygienist should perform periodontal probing at every cleaning. The outstanding dentist should look for decay using the dental pic and should maintain your Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth record. At the first exam, the jaw and teeth relationship and the contact points in your bite should be checked. This is important because over time, changes in your bite can cause stress and cracked teeth.
9. How available is the dentist?
An outstanding dentist will have arrangements for handling emergencies that occur outside of office hours. You may also need a dentist who is available on Saturdays or during the evenings. When you make your first appointment, an outstanding dentist should get you in fairly soon, rather than having you wait several weeks.
10. Is it easy to talk about fees with your dentist?
An outstanding dentist should be sensitive to your budget and understanding about your insurance. Your dentist should be willing to discuss fees and payment plans in advance. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the dentist about fees because no outstanding dentist will begin treatment without consent or approval. For many dental problems, you should have a choice of treatments so that you can choose the best one for your needs and desires.
Finding an outstanding dentist is vital to your family’s oral health and overall happiness. Strong statement? Not when you consider that healthy teeth and gums are now closely linked to overall health, according to many recent studies that have found a connection between what happens in the mouth to diseases in other parts of the body.
Recent research findings have linked chronic oral infections to diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke, and low-birth weight babies. In addition, serious dental problems in your loved ones can undermine their self-esteem, lead to long-term stress and depression and interfere with normal physical functioning, such as breathing, swallowing, eating, and speaking.
What this all points to is that optimal oral health points to a favorable future that includes overall health, high self-esteem, self-confidence, regular attendance at school, good grades, graduation, employability, success at job interviews, and perhaps more importantly attainment of satisfying personal relationships.
BG control and good oral hygiene seems to be the key to avoiding most dental complications. Everyone is at risk of developing periodontal disease, but all people with diabetes, regardless of age or type of diabetes, are more susceptible. There are several reasons for this.
For one, people with diabetes have more sugar in the mouth, which provides a more hospitable environment for hostile bacteria.
High and fluctuating BGs are also a big factor in the increased risk of periodontal disease. Poor BG control means higher degrees of periodontitis and more vulnerability to complications.
It also makes healing more difficult once an infection sets in. Just like diabetics with poor BG control have a hard time healing wounds and infections on their feet, their bodies have a hard time fighting infections and healing wounds in the mouth.
At the same time, on-going infections may make BG control more difficult. Inflammation and infection affect BG control no matter where they occur. But the mouth is often overlooked, because most medical doctors do not look in the mouth.
Once an infection takes root a vicious cycle ensues making metabolic and infection control a struggle. This cycle can have drastic consequences. If oral infections get out of control they can lead to BG control problems serious enough to land a person with diabetes in the hospital, to say nothing of the damage to the teeth and gums.
Gum infections can also impact insulin needs. Authors of a study cited in September’s 1997’s Practical Diabetology concluded that when an infection is rampant, patients with diabetes often have increased insulin requirements. If periodontal disease is treated and gingival inflammation is eliminated, these insulin needs often decrease.
Collagen, which is a building block of the tissue that attaches teeth to bones and the surrounding soft tissue, is also affected by diabetes. Diabetes’ effect on collagen metabolism may make an infection potentially more destructive.
There’s no need for pregnant women to worry about dental treatment or x-rays.
A U.S. obstetrician/gynecologist group stated that these dental procedures are completely safe. The group also recommended ob-gyns to perform dental health tests during a woman’s first prenatal visit. This helps spur patients to routinely visit the dentist during pregnancy.
Since oral health problems could lead to heart disease, diabetes or countless other problems, it’s essential for women to see the dentist during pregnancy.
May 5, 2012 Chad D. : Great service! I’ve been a patient of Dr. LeBlanc’s for a long time and each time I go they provide me outstanding service.
May 2, 2012, Great service like always!!! Everyone in the office is always so nice and pleasant to speak with. Sincerely, R.T. Delhomme
As with all diabetic complications, an ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold. By far the most important step that can be taken is to brush and floss regularly. It is advisable to discuss proper brushing and flossing techniques with your dental team. Some of the fundamentals might surprise you. For example, it is recommended that you brush for a minimum of three minutes, which, when put into practice, is longer than one might imagine.
In the Chair
Prevention also includes making and keeping the often-dreaded dental appointment. See the dentist twice a year, or as often as necessary. If you are avoiding the dentist due to fear and or loathing, there are some strategies to make it a little easier to deal with.
It is best to schedule dental appointments, about an hour and a half after breakfast so that the appointment does not interfere with regular meal times. Test your BGs before you go to the dentist and test them while you are at the dentist’s office. Make sure to stick to your regular insulin and/or oral medication schedule to avoid BG problems. It is also important to discuss your diabetes with your dental team.
The dental team needs to know if their patients take oral agents or insulin because that means special precautions must be taken. Dentists caring for patients with diabetes should have a calibrated glucose meter, glucose tablets or fruit juice, and a glucagons kit available.
They should also be familiar with the common signs of hypoglycemia such as loss of coordination, blurry vision, palpitations, rapid heart rate, sweating and shaking. They must also know if a patient with diabetes has hypoglycemic unawareness, a condition in which they experience few if any signs and symptoms of low blood sugars.
A common situation leading to hypoglycemia at the dental office is a patient skipping breakfast before an appointment but taking the regular amount of insulin.
Severe hyperglycemia may occur as well, but less frequently. Acetone breath and dehydration dry mucous membranes and changes in mental status are signs that blood glucose is too high and dental procedures should be postponed.
The relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease is well established. Preventive oral health care, including professional cleanings at the dental office, is important if you are to control the progression of periodontal disease and other oral health problems.
The key thing to remember is that diabetes can cause additional problems so those with diabetes need to take additional care to keep their teeth and gums healthy.