A trip to the dentist’s office – assuming it is a regularly scheduled checkup, and not an emergency – will involve a number of steps. However, one of them will nearly always be a thorough cleaning of the teeth, usually conducted by a hygienist. Since the teeth are about to be cleaned by a trained professional, is it necessary to brush the teeth right before a visit to the dentist’s office?
The answer to that is simple: yes, teeth should be brushed before a visit to the dentist. Of course, it should be understood that no amount of brushing just before a visit will make up for lengthy neglect of dental hygiene, and in fact, it could make the visit worse: overbrushing could irritate the gums, which can appear like a worse dental situation than actually exists. Furthermore, brushing and hasty flossing right before a visit will not remove plaque that has accumulated or get rid of calculus (sometimes referred to as tartar). Therefore, if the idea is to hide from a dentist a lack of attention to dental hygiene before a visit, brushing will not conceal this fact.
So why is it still a good idea to brush (and, ideally, floss) before a dentist visit?
Dental hygienists are professionals, and no one can clean his or her teeth as well as a hygienist can. Consider the differences in angles and access between standing in front of the mirror brushing one’s own teeth and lying down in a dental chair with the mouth fully open for someone else to clean the teeth. Even hygienists cannot clean their own teeth as well as other hygienists could!
Nevertheless, simply brushing and flossing before a dental visit can rid the mouth of whatever plaque has begun to accumulate on that particular day, and the removal of loose food particles before the visit means the hygienist can concentrate on whatever remains, which may be calculus. The total savings of time will probably not be profound, but even a few minutes saved can speed up the visit and allow for hygienists, dentists, and patients to get on with the day.
Hygienists understand implicitly that no one can clean their own teeth as well as a hygienist can, and therefore that there will be spots that will be missed with even the most scrupulous of patients. However, newly brushed teeth provide an insight into what those missed spots are, and if these can be fixed by the patient with a different technique. Brushing before a visit will thus make for better advice on how to brush more effectively between visits.
Eating before a dental visit
Many dentists recommend not eating or drinking anything except water before a visit, and while this may be an absolute necessity before a scheduled dental procedure (to prevent nausea from anesthesia), it may not always be required for a routine visit. Further, in many cases, fasting may be impractical, especially if the visit is after a shift at work.
However, if eating does happen before a dental visit, it should always be followed by a thorough brushing and flossing. This is because certain foods can give the appearance of dental troubles that are not actually there: chocolate can present as tooth discoloration, for instance, or red dyes may make the gums appear irritated when they are not. Since part of the reason teeth are cleaned during a routine dental visit is to give a preliminary view of the mouth (which will allow the hygienist to direct the dentist to what may be trouble spots), anything that might make this process easier will make the visit a more enjoyable and rapid experience for everyone.
Courtesy and confidence
Finally – and perhaps most obviously – it is a good idea to brush before a dental visit to make the breath smell as pleasant as possible. No one likes the idea of having bad breath, and a visit to the dentist’s office promises at least a half-hour in which the hygienist will be standing very close to the patient, hovering over the mouth. Likewise, after the cleaning, the dentist will also almost always make a visual inspection, so it is best to have inoffensive breath. Besides, since many people are already anxious about a trip to the dentist, anything that can reduce anxiety will make the trip easier for everyone involved.
For all these reasons, a brush and floss before a trip to the dentist is recommended.
General Dentistry in Kingston, TN
If you have questions about general dentistry or want to schedule a consultation, call LakeView Dental Arts at (865) 376-9687, or request an appointment online.