How often you go for dental exams depends on your oral health needs. The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a dental exam every six months. Your dentist may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated, how fast tartar builds up on your teeth, and so on.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I floss every day?
- Do I brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist’s instructions on how to brush properly?
- Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods?
- Do I smoke?
- Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease?
- Is my overall health good?
The answers to these questions are all factors that affect your oral health. They will help you and your dentist decide how often you need to visit for dental exams. It’s worth noting that you should not determine your need for dental care on what your dental plan covers.
How often you need to have x-rays also depends on your oral health. A healthy adult who has not had cavities or other problems for a couple of years probably won’t need x-rays at every appointment. If your dental situation is less stable and your dentist is monitoring your progress, you may require more frequent x-rays.
If you are not sure why a particular x-ray is being taken, ask your dentist. Remember that dental x-rays deliver very little radiation; they are a vital tool for your dentist to ensure that small problems don’t develop into bigger ones.
There are three bands of charges for all NHS dental treatments.
As from April 2018, the current dental charges are:
Band 1 dental treatment: £21.60
This covers one or more treatments (as many as are necessary) from the following list :
- applying sealants or fluoride preparations to the surfaces of your teeth
- a clinical examination, assessment and report
- marginal correction of fillings
- a scale and polish (if clinically necessary)
- treating sensitive cementum (the tissue that covers the root of a tooth)
Emergency treatment (when you need to see a dentist immediately) also costs £21.60.
Band 2 dental treatment: £59.10
This can cover anything listed in band 1 above, plus any of the following:
- an addition to your dentures – such as adding a clasp or a tooth
- oral surgery – such as soft tissue surgery to the mouth or lips
- pulpotomy – removing dental pulp (the soft tissue at the centre of a tooth)
- relining and rebasing dentures
- removing teeth (extraction)
- root canal treatment
- sealant to fill small holes or grooves in your teeth
- splinting loose teeth – for example, after an accident (this doesn’t include laboratory-made splints)
- transplanting teeth
Band 3 dental treatment: £256.50
This can cover anything listed in bands 1 and 2 above, plus any of the following :
- a fixed replacement for a missing tooth or teeth crowns – a type of cap that completely covers your real tooth
- inlays, pinlays and onlays – used to restore damaged teeth
- other custom-made appliances, not including sports guards
- veneers and palatal veneers – new surfaces for the front or back of a tooth
Cosmetic treatments such as veneers and braces are NOT available on the NHS. Similarly, other cosmetic treatments, such as teeth whitening, are not available on the NHS.
It’s important to get an early start on dental care, so that your child will learn that visiting the dentist is a regular part of health care. The first step is to choose a dentist for your child.
It may be your own dentist or one who specializes in treating children (called a pediatric dentist). Once you have selected a dentist, call the office to find out at what age he or she prefers to see child patients for the first time. We encourage the assessment of infants, by a dentist, within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age.
It’s important to make the first visit a positive experience for your child – one reason why it’s best to visit before a problem develops. If you think there is a problem, however, take your child to the dentist right away, no matter what age.
If you are a nervous dental patient, ask your spouse or another family member to take the child for the appointment. If your child senses that you are nervous, he or she may feel nervous too. When you talk to your child about going to the dentist, explain what will happen without adding things like “it won’t hurt” or “don’t be scared.”
Be sure to get an early start on regular dental care at home. Start cleaning your child’s mouth with a soft damp cloth before teeth come in and continue with a soft toothbrush once he or she has a first tooth. Limit the number of sugary treats you give your child, and focus on healthy food choices from the very beginning.
Ask questions. It sounds simple enough, but sometimes we feel embarrassed to ask simple questions. There is no need to feel that way.
You will feel much better, and be able to make a better decision, if you understand the dental procedure that is recommended to you. If you don’t say anything, your dentist may think that you already understand.
Here are some tips when asking questions. Ask:
- If you can see any pictures of the procedure or what it looks like when it is done;
- How many times your dentist has done this procedure in the past;
- How much it will cost;
- How long it will take;
- If it will need to be redone in the future;
- If there are alternatives to the procedure and if so, what are the pros and cons of each option.
The final decision about how and when to proceed with any treatment is yours. To help you understand what is involved in the treatment, your dentist may give you some printed material to read.
If you have already left the dental office without asking questions, call back later. Be careful about getting information from unknown sources, including sources on the Internet. Some of this information may not be reliable.
After all your questions have been answered, if you are still uncertain, you may wish to get a second opinion from another dentist. Often, a second opinion will give you confidence that your dentist has planned the right treatment for yo