Dentists recommend that you go for a check-up at least twice a year. At the same time as you see the dentist, you can also make an appointment with the dental hygienist who will clean and polish your teeth for you.
The dentist checks that your teeth are in good condition. If you have a hole, or a cavity, you may need a filling, which is a small amount of porcelain that the dentist uses to fill the hole. Many adults have one or more fillings – often in their back teeth or molars.
You may have more serious problems with your teeth and occasionally the dentist will need to take an X-ray to see the damage to your teeth more clearly. For example, a tooth may be so rotten that the dentist recommends an extraction (where the tooth is removed) or you may need root canal work, where the dentist repairs damage to the roots of a tooth. In both of these occasions, you will need an anaesthetic so that you cannot feel the pain. (Unfortunately, you will still be able to hear the sound of the dentist’s drill, the metal instrument used to open up the tooth.)
Some adults also experience problems with their wisdom teeth. There are four of these teeth: two top teeth, and two bottom teeth at the extreme left and right of the mouth. If they don’t come down properly, they can become painful and need to be removed.
If you fall over and knock out one of your front teeth, the dentist may be able to fit a false tooth. The dentist can also repair teeth which have disintegrated, by putting a cap on the tooth, to stop it disintegrating further.
Specialist dentists (called orthodontists) can straighten teeth which are crooked. They put braces (wires) on the teeth to do this. Many children need to have this work done.
Finally, “prevention is better than cure”. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth twice a day, and floss your teeth to remove any food between your teeth. An antibacterial mouthwash will help to avoid the build-up of plaque.