Taking care of oral health can be one of the most important things an individual does for their overall health, and it is just another reason why the general dentist is a quarterback you need on your team. While the comparison may seem a little odd, it is spot on. Think of your general dentist as the one with the playbook for making your smile strong and healthy.

Your Offense Is Only as Good as the Quarterback

Quarterbacks are good at reading the field in the same way that a general dentist is good at monitoring an individual’s dental health from visit to visit. Some of the benchmarks a dentist will use to determine the state of patient’s oral health generally include:

  • X-rays at least once a year
  • Exam of gums and teeth
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Professional teeth cleaning

Don’t expect to get past the fifty-yard line if you don’t make regular dental cleanings and exams a priority. Not only are these appointments instrumental in stopping potential problems before they become more painful and expensive issues, they are also the best way for the dentist to compare x-ray films, tooth structure and gum presentation from visit to visit.

Think of regular teeth cleanings as scrimmages. No self-respecting football team goes out on the field for an important game without having participated in a scrimmage first. Likewise, a patient who does not visit the dentist regularly should not expect perfect reports.

The Dentist Can Pass with Confidence to the Appropriate Specialists

If a patient goes to a specialist on their own without first seeing their general dentist, it can cause several problems:

  1. Without confirmation from the dentist, a patient may misdiagnose what they believe the problem to be
  2. It can cost a patient a lot of money for an appointment in which they are asked what the dentist’s diagnosis was and if they have any x-rays or records to support that diagnosis
  3. The general dentist may have difficulty restoring implants placed by the specialist if treatment is not properly coordinated between the two, costing the patient more time and money
  4. The specialist may not have a respected reputation within the dental industry and would not be someone your provider would recommend

The takeaway: the general dentist is in charge of passing, not the patient. Whether a patient requires an endodontist, orthodontist, or a periodontist, the general dentist should be able to provide them with one or two names of industry professionals they hold in high esteem.

Tackling Good Hygiene Can Help Keep You Off the Bench

If you think having good oral hygiene is not important, then you have likely never had a cavity filled or a root canal performed. A fix for either of these scenarios and dozens of others may just have you sitting the bench instead of being in the middle of the huddle.

General dentists can provide patients with a customized oral health routine that targets specific areas of concern.

  • For example, while most patients generally know that it is recommended they brush their teeth first thing in the morning and again before bed, they may not realize they need a special type of floss specifically designed for them if they have a permanent retainer in place.
  • In patients that have a propensity for cavities, the dentist may recommend a certain brand of toothpaste designed to be stronger than the regular over the counter brand.
  • In other cases, the dentist may suggest that a patient refrain from enjoying quite so many sugary or dark colored beverages to avoid any further staining of the teeth.

The work a patient puts in on a daily basis in caring for their teeth will go a long way toward determining how their next regular dental appointment goes. It is one of the most powerful tools a patient has in taking care of their own oral health.

Don’t Fumble the Ball with a Season Ending Injury

Sitting the bench with a cavity might be the least of a patient’s problems if they neglect good oral hygiene practices or fail to visit the dentist on a regular basis. The outcome could be a fumble that results in a season ending injury, which might be something like:

  • Crowns and Root Canals. If a tooth is cracked, damaged, or severely discolored, a crown may be needed. If it is not addressed quickly, it could result in the development of a painful abscess that requires a crown and possibly a root canal. Both of these procedures can take time to complete and can be far more expensive than practicing good oral hygiene.
  • Dental implants. Patients who don’t take good care of their teeth could potentially lose a tooth. In its place would be a noticeably empty space that may require a dental implant for functionality and aesthetics. The process of getting dental implants takes time and is costly.
  • Oral surgery. For problems that a patient has let persist too long, it could result in the need for oral surgery. This is typically an expensive undertaking and can require varying lengths of recovery time depending on the type of procedure performed.

By knowing why the general dentist is a quarterback, a patient can ensure they maintain a winning record at the end of the season and have the smile to prove it.