Definition and Overview
Dental consultation, which is recommended at least once a year, is an assessment of a person’s oral health.
The mouth is an essential part of the digestive process. It’s where food that nourishes the body goes in. Before it reaches the rest of the digestive tract, such as the stomach, food should already be broken down into tiny pieces and “softened” so it passes through the esophagus more easily.
For this reason, teeth are extremely important. As the muscles of the jaw and some parts of the face move, the teeth turn big chunks of food into smaller ones so they become more digestible. Moreover, with the combination of saliva, food is gradually converted into starch. The body needs it to generate fuel for the cells, which it uses for energy consumption.
However, many situations can damage oral health. They can affect not only the teeth but also the gums, roots, bones, and even the jaws. While some of these issues are mild, others can be severe and can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life; some can even be life threatening.
One of the best ways to prevent, treat, and manage these conditions is to undergo a dental consultation. Depending on the consultation the person needs, a general dentist, endodontist, periodontist, or orthodontist can help. There’s also a dental surgeon and an esthetic dentist.
Who Should Undergo and Expected Results
Everybody needs a dental consultation. What many people don’t know is that babies develop teeth buds while they were still in their mother’s womb. However, they don’t “erupt” or come out until they are around five months. As the teeth start showing, the infants may already require some tooth cleaning with the guidance of a pediatric dentist.
By the time they reach the age of 6 or 7, their milk or baby teeth will become loose and be replaced by permanent teeth, so the importance of a dentist at this point cannot be stressed enough. Dentist can personally see the development of the permanent teeth even before they come out.
As a person turns into a young adult, he or she becomes more susceptible to a variety of dental conditions depending on the person’s lifestyle, dental habits, pre-existing illnesses, and even heredity.
The frequency of dental visits can greatly vary. Some groups are considered low-risk, which means they can set up an appointment for consultation at least once a year. Meanwhile, these are those who have very few and mild dental problems, or have otherwise healthy dental condition.
Some patients, on the other hand, are classified as high risk. These individuals may have to undergo consultations twice a year. Sometimes they may have to see their dentist every 3 months. These people:
- May have been diagnosed with diabetes
- Have progressive or severe gum disease
- Undergone organ transplant
- Have compromised immune system
- Suffer from recurrent dental infections
- Wear oral appliances such as braces, which need regular adjustments
- Have been diagnosed with oral cancer
There are many reasons to go through a dental consultation. Such as to:
- Ensure optimum dental health is achieved
- Ensure dental problems are addressed as soon as possible
- Recommend the best form of dental treatment and management
- Assess a person’s eligibility for surgery or other forms of treatment
- Monitor the progress of the treatment, modifying it whenever necessary
- Determine how dental problems affect the other parts of the body
- Obtain a personal dental history or profile
- Screen for oral cancer
- Improve the appearance of the teeth and gums
- Promote better bite or chewing
How Does the Procedure Work?
Dentists work in various settings. They can be found in their respective clinics, hospitals, and community centers. They also provide services to institutions such as schools and companies. Some are working for the government and non-profit organizations.
Patients therefore should not have a hard time looking for a dentist. If they are insured, their own insurance company can suggest doctors who can provide covered services.
To initiate a dental consultation, patients should contact their prospective dentist first to set an appointment. There’s no special preparation needed, although if the patients have existing medical or dental records, they must be sent to the dentist beforehand for a more efficient appointment.
During the consultation, it’s expected that the dentist will:
Perform a thorough physical dental exam – Patients will be asked to sit comfortably in the dental chair while the dentist checks on different parts of the mouth. The dentist may also try to feel the jaw and check the roof of the mouth and underneath the tongue.
Conduct diagnostics – Many dental clinics these days are already equipped with tools such as X-rays and computers with simulated software. This way, diagnostics can be performed quickly, and emergency treatment, if needed, can be provided to the patients.
Carry out an oral cancer screening test – The dental consultation is one of the many methods of determining any suspicious lesions, sores, or masses.
Take note of the patients’ profile – The profile can include personal and family medical and oral history, habits, lifestyle, hygiene, and illnesses, to name a few.
Diagnose a dental condition – The dentist can recommend treatments that may be carried out on the same appointment or on the next visit. If the dentist’s evaluation suggests the condition is complex, it’s normal for patients to be referred to specialists.
Counsel patients – Dentists can offer tips to promote better dental health.
Possible Risks and Complications
At least 20% of the U.S. population is scared of the dentist. They normally feel anxious or even suffer from panic attack when they think about meeting the dentist or imagine a dental checkup. But the truth is dental consultation has very little risks.
Often, during consultations, anesthesia or medications are not provided yet, so patients don’t have to worry about possible side effects. The dentists also make sure that patients fully understand their dental condition or health and know the risks and benefits of the treatment, if it’s necessary.