What is Preventative Dentistry and Why is it Important?
The term preventative dentistry refers to the prevention of dental disease through the practice of proper home care and regular dental visits. Prevention is essential in avoiding the onset of a variety of issues including, periodontal disease, cavity development as well as several health conditions that have been linked to poor dental health (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections, etc.).
At What Age Should Preventative Dentistry Begin?
Preventative dentistry should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth erupts (no later than 12 months of age); however, some parents choose to begin using dental products that are made especially for babies before this time to familiarize their child with having something moving through their mouth and around their gums. A dental visit should be scheduled following the eruption of the first tooth as well.
Preventative Care That You Can Do at Home
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride: Make sure that the toothpaste you choose has the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval on its packaging.
The Importance of Fluoride
Once a tooth has developed, fluoride can be used to strengthen its structure; thus, creating a decay-resistant tooth surface. Furthermore, fluoride can remineralize the areas of a tooth that have already started to decay, reversing the process.
Fluoride toothpaste is recommended by the ADA for individuals who are at least two years of age; in addition, the ADA recommends fluoride mouth rinses for children who are at least six years old (due to concerns that a child younger than six years of age may actually swallow the solution as opposed to spitting it out).
- Each brushing session should last a total of two minutes.
- Hold the bristles of the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline.
- Brush your teeth, moving back and forth using short strokes: Remember to brush all surfaces of your teeth (e.g., the outer, chewing and inner) as well as the top of your tongue.
Do not forget to replace your toothbrush every three months or once the bristles begin to fray.
When you floss, you remove the food debris and any plaque that has built up in the tight spaces between your teeth and beneath the gumline.
- Begin with approximately 18 inches of floss.
- Wrap all but about an inch or two of the floss evenly around each middle finger.
- Hold the floss tightly between your index fingers and thumbs.
- Gently slide the accessible inch or two of floss between two teeth and move it up-and-down. Remember to curve the floss at the base of each tooth, gently going beneath the gumline.
- Remove the floss by bringing it up and away from the teeth using the same back-and-forth movement. As you move from one tooth to the next, use clean sections of floss.
Individuals who have braces may need specially-designed floss to get between the brackets.
Eat a healthy diet, limiting sugary foods and beverages to ensure your teeth remain strong.
Limit your consumption of simple carbohydrates, including pasta, white bread and rice as these foods contain sugar, which feeds the bacteria responsible for producing dental plaque. Eat foods that are rich in calcium to strengthen your teeth and reduce the likelihood of developing gum disease.
Preventative Care That Your Dentist Can Provide
Cleanings and Exams Every Six Months
Dental cleanings and oral exams should be performed every six months. During this procedure, plaque and tartar are removed by a dental hygienist. Once the cleaning is complete, your dentist performs an examination to look for any signs of oral cancer or tooth decay.
Fluoride and sealant treatments are usually offered during these visits. Fluoride strengthens the teeth and sealants are used to protect the teeth from decay.
X-rays are frequently performed during an exam. X-rays provide dentists with the ability to see dental issues that are not visible with the naked eye (e.g., problems below the gum line).
Additional preventative treatments:
- Periodontal treatment (preventative and nonsurgical).
- Invisalign for straightening teeth since keeping crooked teeth clean is a challenge.
- Custom-designed mouth guards for sports and night guards (for those with bruxism).
Additional Dental Visits for Those Considered High Risk for Dental Problems
Who is Considered at a Higher Risk for Experiencing Dental Problems?
The risk of tooth decay and infection increases when:
- an individual uses tobacco and/or recreational drugs;
- a woman is pregnant or going through menopause; and/or
- certain health conditions are present (e.g., hyperthyroidism, HIV/AIDS, Sjögren’s syndrome, anemia or cancer).
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and implant dental practice located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.