Do I need a checkup if I am not having any pain from my teeth?

We all have this question pop into our heads when we get the reminder arrive in the mail that it is time to see the dentist again. Dental checkups are planned regularly to monitor any changes to the teeth and gums, and to catch any decay before it has a chance to get deep into the tooth. 

Checkup appointments are also useful for checking the gum health, and regular cleaning and scaling can be carried out to removed hardened plaque from the tooth surfaces.

The danger of leaving appointments until teeth are painful, is that treatment can often be more in depth, and require additional, more expensive treatment such as root canals, or extractions.

Why do dentists take Xrays? Are these necessary?

Dentists take xrays for a number of reasons in the surgery. The most common type of x-ray is called a 'Bitewing' film and they are usually taken in pairs to show the back teeth on the left and right hand sides. Despite the best efforts of the dentist, we are unable to see well between the teeth, and the Bitewing films show up most of the decay as dark shadowing on the films.

Sometimes a close up 'Peri-apical' film is taken to show to the root tip to check for signs of an abscess.

Occasionally a wrap around xray, called an 'OPG' or Ortho-Pantomogram' is taken to show all the teeth in both jaws. This can be useful in patients needing wisdom teeth extractions, periodontal treatment or people with gagging issues.

Do I really need the treatment now? Can I delay it?

The advantage of receiving treatment early is that we generally are able to offer less extensive options to repair the tooth. A simple filling in a molar tooth over two surfaces, left untreated will spread deeper into the inner part of the tooth until it extends into the central nerve of the tooth. At this stage the options become very limited and can often be either Root Canal Treatment or Extraction.

Gum disease (periodontitis) left without treatment will lead to the loosening and eventually loss of the tooth.