Current Newsletter: July 2010

Current Newsletter: July 2010


The year has passed quickly – we have hit the halfway mark and are heading towards the end of the year. And before another six months fly by, you need to book your half-year check up.

The importance of regular dental checkups cannot be overemphasised. Although most of us regard this as a ‘duty’ or ‘chore’, the saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ is most apt. It’s an investment in the health of your gums, will extend the life of your teeth and save you money in the long-term.

In this newsletter I explain the relevance and importance of having regular dental checkups, the procedure and most importantly, why it is prudent to replace older fillings. Once this makes sense, it will be easier to set up that appointment.

Yours sincerely

Dr Aleksandra Cerny

Our teeth in adulthood are the only ones we are given and it is thus crucial to take care of them. More often than not, a visit to the dentist for a check up is regarded as a ‘grudge’ investment in money and time and is done reluctantly. However, our teeth are one of the most used – and abused – parts of our body, and they require regular attention.

A common question posed is that if one does not feel pain, why should you have a check up? The answer is quite simple: it is better to be proactive and prevent any infection than be reactive and require treatment that can result in a filling, root canal or worse… extraction. It is equally important to replace older fillings to ensure secondary infection does not occur as this can also result in the need for extensive treatment.

A dental check up should be thorough and comprise of a number of steps.

  • Soft tissue check – it is important for a dentist to examine all parts of the patient’s oral cavity including the soft tissue. Early detecting and diagnosis of a disease is vital, whether they are minor or more serious.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) – is the joint of the jaw where the upper temporal bone and lower jaw bone meet. It is important to establish symptoms such as pain, clicking, crepitations (a dry, grating sound) and deviations. Common causes include clenching and grinding, usually due to stress, and once diagnosed, can be remedied to prevent further complications.
  • Replacement of older fillings – expensive treatment and the possible loss of teeth can be prevented if older fillings are replaced, ensuring secondary infection does not cause further problems. Many assume that once a tooth is ‘filled’ with either a resin (white fillings) or metal, that it isn’t necessary to replace the filling for a long time. However, these fillings usually last between six and eight years. As we use our teeth every day, general wear and tear takes place through chewing and biting. This destroys the ‘seal’ between the tooth and the old filling material and bacteria sets in. It is difficult to tell how fast the secondary decay is occurring and how fast the nerve will become exposed. By the time the patient feels pain, it might be too late as secondary infection has most probably ‘set in’ and the tooth might require a root canal. In fact, this is the most common diagnosis that necessitates a root canal.

It is therefore crucial to have a regular dental check up as a preventative measure. This ensures your mouth and teeth are healthy, and cancer can be detected early on. It also prevents gum disease and secondary infection of existing fillings that can result in a root canal treatment. These potential ‘worst case scenarios’ and treatments thereof can be financially costly, not to mention ruin your image.

Many of us prioritise purchasing costly face creams and hair treatments but an unsightly smile can tarnish an otherwise beautiful or good looking face. Remember this when procrastinating with regards to making an appointment with your dentist for a check up.