It is easy to see that some people might look at the title of this article and feel they are attending a meeting of Dental Phobics Anonymous! That is certainly not the intent here. You will not be asked to stand up, say your name and admit you do not visit your dentist!

However, there is a good chance that many of you do not visit your dentist on a regular basis. Some studies have indicated that, in North America, as little as 45% of the population visits their dentist at least once per year. On a more local level, only 45% of local Ottawa seniors reported visiting the dentist at least once per year.

As dentists, we consider that a rather alarming statistic. First of all, due to the potential for your oral health to change rapidly, we recommend that you visit your dentist at least twice per year. For those individuals experiencing specific dental issues, such as periodontitis, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

We understand that there are a number of factors that interfere with your ability to make it to the dentist. Work days seem so much longer than ever before as technology seems to have us permanently linked to the office. Single parents or two income families often struggle to balance work life with getting their kids to whatever activity they have that night.

Even if you want to go to the dentist, life can be so busy it just seems to get in the way!

It is certainly not our place to lecture anybody about the importance of good oral health. That being said, we would be remiss if we did not, at the very least, remind you just how important regular dental visits are!

Your mouth is truly a window into your overall health. People in poor oral health tend to be more likely to experience poor overall health as well! The bacteria that builds on the teeth can penetrate into your bloodstream and cause infections to spread, or result in cardiovascular diseases!

Sometimes, an underlying health condition that may not seem to be linked to oral health can be spotted by your dentist. For example, some dentists have spotted signs of undiagnosed diabetes in patients. Imagine how their health could have been further compromised without that dental visit!

Then, of course, there is the potential life saving diagnosis your dentist may provide through early detection of oral cancer! Visiting even once per year is not sufficient to increase the likelihood of early detection. You need to get to the dentist at least every six months to provide your dentist with the best chance to catch oral cancer as early as possible.

We understand that this may seem like a large investment in time. But it is your health we are talking about. And if one of your children has to miss one hockey practice because you have a dentist appointment, we think that beats the option of discovering oral cancer when it is too late!

So invest the time to see your dentist. Because regular dental visits are a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon