What is preventive dentistry?
Preventive dentistry helps patients avoid the costly and invasive procedures often needed to treat serious dental conditions. Preventing dental problems requires a lifelong commitment. That is why at Ridgeview Family Dental we help our patients understand the importance of maintaining dental health to helps patients look and feel their best, and have a positive overall health.
What does preventative dentistry prevent?
Preventive dentistry is where we place all of our efforts on the avoidance of uncomfortable dental problems. Our teeth have layers of material. The outer material, enamel, is one of the hardest natural substances to exist. However resilient enamel is, damage may occur. Usually, we perceive enamel damage as tooth decay, or cavities. In recent years, science has also discovered that enamel can be prematurely worn down. This is referred to as erosion. One of the critical aspects of preventative dentistry is creating strategies to protect enamel, first, then the inner layers of tooth material.
Preventative dentistry is also concerned with gum health. The soft tissue around teeth needs to be healthy and firm so that the gums fit tightly around teeth. Gums that are inflamed are weak. They may loosen around individual teeth and, when they do, allow bacteria to penetrate this protective boundary. As this happens, the risk of periodontal disease increases.
Ultimately, staying up to date with preventative care and taking good care of your teeth at home can help you avoid:
- Tooth decay
- Gingivitis and gum disease
- Tooth fractures resultant from decay
- Bone loss due to deep gum infection (periodontal disease)
- Tooth loss due to extensive decay or periodontal disease
- Comprehensive dental treatment like root canals and tooth extraction
Comprehensive dental exams and cleanings are recommended once every six months. These exams help identify tooth decay, or early signs of gum disease or oral cancer, through diagnostic X-rays and a physical examination. Early detection of these conditions helps ensure effective treatment and prevent permanent damage.
What is involved in a regular cleaning?
A dental cleaning includes removal of tartar and plaque, which can build up and cause inflammation and disease if left untreated. The teeth are also polished to remove stains that often cannot be removed by at-home toothbrushing.
What are Dental Sealants?
Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that we paint onto the surface of the tooth to prevent decay and other diseases from establishing themselves in the grooves of the teeth. Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always effectively penetrate all the grooves of the back teeth. Decay often forms there because it is difficult to remove all traces of food from these grooves, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup. By placing sealants, we are able to fill the grooves, creating a smoother surface that makes the tooth easier to keep clean.
Dental Sealants Process
The process of placing sealants is quick, easy and painless. Sealants are applied after a thorough cleaning of the selected tooth. The tooth’s enamel is then coated with the sealant, which bonds to the tooth as it hardens to provide protection from decay.
Oral Cancer Screenings
With over 30,000 new cases diagnosed each year, oral cancer has become the sixth deadliest cancer in the world. In fact, oral cancer claims the life of one person every hour. That’s why we take this issue very seriously and strive to provide the best detection and prevention methods possible.
Historically perceived to only strike older adults with a history of heavy tobacco and alcohol use, studies have now shown that oral cancer affects a much wider demographic. More people under the age of 40 are being diagnosed, with 25% of all people diagnosed not classified as alcohol or tobacco users. Unfortunately, most cases go untreated since oral cancer often goes unnoticed in the mouth, showing up only as a tiny white or red spot or sore. Because many people do not realize they have oral cancer, detection may not be made until the late stages of development, contributing to its high mortality rate. Most oral cancers are curable if found early, making early detection imperative.
What is preventive dentistry at home?
The daily care that your teeth receive is what impacts your oral health the most. Therefore, preventive dentistry at home is one of the most critical aspects of oral care. Fortunately, it is also the easiest.
Brushing Your Teeth
A healthy mouth starts with good brushing habits. The American Dental Associates encourages children and adults to:
- Brush two times a day for two minutes. It isn’t necessary to brush after every meal. In fact, brushing too soon after eating can lead to erosion.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is shaped and sized to comfortably fit your mouth.
- Replace toothbrushes every three to four months. If bristles fray before this time, get a new brush. Also, talk with your dentist; you may be brushing too hard.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
How you brush your teeth is as important as how often you brush:
- Hold your toothbrush on an angle of 45-degrees rather than using straight force.
- Use short strokes when moving the toothbrush across teeth. Press gently. Brushing too hard causes abrasion to the gums, which can lead to inflammation and gum recession.
- Touch the inner and outer surfaces with several strokes, and then the chewing surface.
- To brush inner surfaces of front teeth, turn the brush vertical and use very short up-and-down strokes.
This second step to oral care is easy and vitally important to the success of disease prevention. Flossing removes the biofilm that adheres to the surfaces in between teeth and just under the gums. When plaque builds up in hidden places, it can cause inflammation and infection that affects the mouth as well as the body. Flossing should not be missed. It is best performed at night before bed.
- Use a string of floss about 18 inches long and wrap each end loosely around a finger. You only need a few inches of floss to work with at a time.
- Slide a tight string of floss between two teeth, sliding it up gently to remove invisible plaque. As you slide the floss, curve it slightly around the base of the tooth as you go. Make sure that you allow the floss to flow beneath the edge of the gums to reach areas that are susceptible to bacteria.
- As you move from one tooth to another, move your hands to reveal clean sections of floss for use.
If you have questions about how to maximize your flossing technique, speak with your dental hygienist during our next cleaning. We are happy to demonstrate how flossing can be as effective as possible.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Studies have indicated that sugary foods and beverages can quickly downgrade oral health. A balanced diet that includes foods that are high in calcium (milk, yogurt, and spinach) as well as crunchy fruits, vegetables, and nuts naturally cleanse and fortify enamel.
Schedule An Appointment
We would love to discuss your options! Please call 660-747-9117 to make an appointment. We serve Grain Valley, Odessa, Bates City and surrounding areas. Thanks to our convenient locations in Warrensburg, Oak Grove and Windsor.