Why You Should Prioritize Preventive Care
Preventive dentistry is the discipline of dentistry focused on preventing diseases and disorders of the mouth, jaws, teeth, and gums. The majority of dental problems are preventable! With the right care from your dental professionals and a consistent routine of oral hygiene at home, people can prevent a great majority of dental disease.
Current statistics estimate that nearly 3.5 billion people are affected by oral disease. Dental issues can lead to pain, an inability to obtain proper nutrition, or infections that spread through the entire body. The staggering number of people affected by oral disease supports the great need for an emphasis on preventive care.
Consistent Professional Dental Care
One of the most important ways to prevent dental disease is to see a dentist twice each year for professional hygiene treatment and oral evaluations. Diseases like cavities and gum disease start small, and can be treated when caught early.
Unfortunately, many people wait until their tooth hurts to go to the dentist. Pain is usually an indicator that the disease has passed its earliest stages and will require more extensive treatment. By going to the dentist consistently, you can prevent most dental problems and catch the others in their earliest stages. Not only does this save you money; it saves your natural tooth structure and time in the dental chair.
Great Home Care
In order for preventive care to truly be effective, you must do more than just go to the dentist twice a year. You also have to take care of your teeth at home on a daily basis. A great oral hygiene routine at home must include brushing and flossing the teeth using techniques that are effective for removing plaque from the teeth and gums.
Diet also plays an important role in oral health. To maintain great oral health, it is important to limit sugary and acidic beverages. Drinking plenty of water to maintain good hydration supports good oral health by aiding saliva production. A healthy balance of nutrition, vitamins and minerals is essential to a completely healthy mouth.
The earlier you begin practicing good oral hygiene, the longer you can protect your teeth. If you have children, encourage them to create good habits early in life.
Protective Mouthguards as Directed by Your Dentist
An often-overlooked area of preventive dentistry is protective mouthguards. Mouthguards can literally save your teeth. Athletic mouthguards protect the teeth from traumatic injuries received during contact sports.
Nighttime mouthguards protect the teeth and gums against the harmful effects of clenching and/or grinding. These subconscious habits occur during sleep, so you are not able to simply stop doing them. They can lead to cracked, chipped, or shortened teeth, all of which require expensive dental treatments to repair.
What are the Benefits of Preventive Dentistry?
Saves Money and Time
It is always less expensive to prevent disease than to treat it. What many patients consider the biggest benefit of preventive dentistry is its ability to save you time in the dental chair. Patients who have consistent preventive care spend less money over their lifetimes than those without it.
Preserves Your Natural Smile
The hard tissues of the teeth, enamel and dentin, are relatively unique in that they cannot heal themselves. Once decayed or broken, the dentist must remove it and replace it with a substitute material. Preserving your natural teeth is best for function, allowing you to bite, chew, and speak without restrictions.
Improves Overall Health
Poor oral health and the presence of worsening dental diseases has been linked to health problems of many kinds. Scientific research connects chronic oral disease to serious health conditions like heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Your body cannot be completely healthy without a healthy mouth.
What are Common Preventive Dentistry Services?
Preventive dentistry encompasses a variety of dental procedures.
Oral Evaluations including Dental X-rays
During an oral evaluation, your dentist is assessing the state of your whole mouth. An oral evaluation includes a comprehensive examination of the teeth, gums, jaw joints, and an oral cancer screening. Your dentist will use the findings of this clinical evaluation in conjunction with a series of dental x-rays to diagnose any existing dental conditions.
Perhaps more importantly, he or she will also identify warning signs of potential problem areas. This is where prevention comes in! When identifying areas that could become disease, your dentist will recommend measures you can take to intervene and stop the disease before it takes hold.
Professional Teeth Cleanings
During a professional hygiene care visit, your dental hygienist removes all dental plaque and hardened tartar buildup from the teeth and gums. This act itself reduces your risk for future dental disease, since plaque contains the bacteria responsible for dental disease.
Your hygienist will also assess your plaque removal techniques and give you suggestions to improve in areas that are not being effectively cleaned on a daily basis.
Cavity Prevention Treatments
If your dentist identifies many risk factors for tooth decay (cavities), he or she will recommend preventive treatments to help reduce that risk. Dental sealants can be applied to the biting surfaces of back teeth to stop plaque from collecting in their pits and grooves. This preventive procedure is successful at preventing cavities on the biting surfaces.
For some people, cavities commonly develop between the teeth. While we cannot seal this surface of a tooth, we can strengthen the enamel to fight decay by applying a professional fluoride treatment. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that hardens enamel to help it resist the attacks of acid-producing bacteria.
Many people are completely unaware that they are clenching or grinding their teeth during sleep. This harmful habit often leaves visible evidence in the mouth that your dentist can observe. If you show signs of bruxism , you should consider wearing a professional mouthguard to protect your teeth, gums, muscles and jaws.
How Can You Prioritize Preventive Care?
Preventive dentistry is truly a collaboration between patient and dentist. You must commit to being preventive by prioritizing dental visits, following through on recommendations by your dentist, and taking great care of your teeth at home. If you’re overdue on preventive care, schedule your next hygiene appointment with us today!