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WFMY News: Dr. Shelley Olson Answers Common Dental Questions

Dr. Shelley Olson (Oxford, NC) explains the importance of regular visits to the dentist.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It may not be the most fun trip, but experts say going to the dentist regularly is crucial for oral health.

Otherwise, you could have a whole bunch of problems going untreated, and it may end up becoming serious.

Dr. Shelley Olson joined 2 Wants to Know to answer common questions and help you stay healthy.

Myth #1: Dentists only check for cavities and other tooth problems.

Fact #1: Dentists will check for tooth decay, but they do much more than that. They examine cheeks, tongues and the rest of your mouth. A dentist will screen for oral cancer, gum disease and other potential health conditions.

Myth #2: People shouldn't go to the dentist unless they think they have a problem.

Fact #2: Olson said you should be proactive with your oral hygiene. Checkups are a crucial part of that. Tooth decay gets worse if left untreated. Olson said you should see your dentist every 6-12 months to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Myth #3: Brushing your teeth harder cleans them better.

Fact #3: Olson said brushing your teeth too hard can actually damage your enamel. She said you should brush slowly and in a circular motion with a manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes do the work for you.

Obviously, Olson thinks it is important for you to get checked out. She said it's just as important that you don't go to the emergency department for dental problems.

The American Dental Association said there are more than two million visits to the emergency department each year for dental pain. It said dental problems are best treated by dental professionals. Otherwise, the ED staff may actually do more harm than help because they don't have the proper training.

The ADA said to consider three things when you think need treatment.

  1. Assess your condition. Is it actually an emergency or can it wait until your dentist's office opens?
  2. Call your dentist and give as many details as possible.
  3. Be prepared and ask conditions.