Preventive dental care focuses on the importance of daily hygienic practices that prevent tooth decay and other oral conditions. An effective preventive program combines good at-home care with counseling and chairside treatments by our
dental professionals. Prevention Starts Early
It’s never too early and a patient is never too young for good oral hygiene. Parents should begin daily tooth cleanings as soon as a child’s first tooth emerges, and they should visit a dentist before the child reaches one year of age. These steps help parents and children establish a solid oral health care and good preventive dental care.
Strategies for Preventive Dental Care
Preventive dental care tips for adults and children include a range of in-home and in-office activities, such as those listed below.
Hygiene at home: The most vital preventive technique is flossing and brushing after every meal or at least twice per day. Brushing and flossing removes dental plaque, which is a filmy coating that develops on the teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed, it may build up and form tartar, a sticky, hard substance with acid-emitting bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
Use of products containing fluoride: With fluoride, patients may prevent tooth decay and strengthen their teeth. Our dental office provides fluoride treatments, and our dentists recommend that patients use fluoridated mouthwashes and toothpaste at home.
A balanced diet: Proper diet is crucial to patients’ dental health. Foods rich in carbs and sugars feed plaque-producing bacteria, while diets low in calcium increase a patient’s chances of gum disease and bone loss in the jaw.
Dental screenings and regular cleanings: A twice-yearly dental cleaning will remove accumulated stains and plaque while allowing the dentist to check for decay symptoms. In some cases, the dentist may apply a sealant to the back teeth to protect them from decay.
X-rays: With x-rays, our dentists can look for hidden signs of dental problems, such as those below the gum line and in between teeth.
Orthodontic appliances: Malocclusions (bad bites) can inhibit speaking and eating, and it’s hard to keep crooked teeth clean. With orthodontic treatments such as dental braces, patients may limit the possibility of future issues.
One of the most important preventive strategies for patients is to limit smoking and drinking, as all have negative effects on oral health. When patients understand the potential outcomes of poor dental care, they’re more likely to see a dentist to get the treatment they need.
Substances Used in Preventive Dental Care
Fluoride is important, but good dental care goes far beyond that. When used in dental treatments, ACP or amorphous calcium phosphate may help to restore the mineral balance of phosphate and calcium. When applied to a patient’s teeth, ACP builds tooth enamel and can protect dentin during orthodontic treatments and after professional cleanings. This ingredient is currently found in some toothpaste, as well as sealants applied in the dentist’s office. Some dentists recommend xylitol, which is a natural sweetener that’s been proven to prevent decay, reduce the chances of gum disease, and reduce cavities. Xylitol may be used in place of sugar in recipes and beverages, and it’s commonly found in mouthwashes, candies, chewing gum, and toothpaste.
Technological Methods of Disease Prevention
An intraoral camera may be used along with a TV or computer monitor to photograph the outside of a patient’s teeth. Digital radiography is a type of imaging where a digital x-ray sensor is used rather than a traditional film image. These are easier and faster than conventional dental x-rays, and they give dentists the ability to digitally enhance and transfer images so the patient can see them. Not only do digital x-rays allow for earlier detection and better patient education, they put out almost 90% less radiation than conventional x-rays.
Air abrasion is a drill-free way to remove decayed areas, surface stains and prepare tooth surfaces for sealants or composite bonding (fillings). During an air abrasion procedure, a very fine stream of silica, baking soda, or aluminum oxide particles are aimed at the affected area and propelled via compressed gas. This appliance works similarly to a sandblaster, and when the stream hits the tooth, affected parts are removed.
Other diagnostic tools like Diagnodent and Caries ID help dentists find caries (cavities) at the earliest stages before they become unmanageable. Caries ID uses fiber optic and LED technology, while Diagnodent uses a fluorescent laser to find cavities beneath the surface of the teeth where x-rays can’t penetrate.
The Importance of Cavity Risk Assessment
Our dentists will customize prevention programs based on a patient’s individual risk for cavities. During the assessment, the dentist observes the patient’s clinical status and considers the following factors.
The number of current carious lesions. A patient with more than two is considered to be at a greater risk of future cavities.
The patient’s exposure to fluoride-containing products
The patient’s rate of salivary flow
Medication usage. Some OTC and prescription medicines may lead to cavities due to a high sugar content or the side effect of decreased saliva output.
Age: Children, adolescents, adults, and senior citizens all have unique dental risk factors.
Educational level, income, and patient attitudes toward oral health. Research proves that patients with lower education or a low income are more likely to have untreated, severe dental decay.
Clinical factors such as prior restorations and missing teeth
Lab factors like salivary calcium content
The Advantages of Preventive Dentistry
There’s a strong link between oral health and overall health, which means preventive dentistry is a crucial part of a patient’s overall well-being. Oral conditions may interfere with proper eating, daily activities, speaking, and self-confidence. In young patients, untreated decay may affect development and growth. With preventive dentistry at home and in our offices, patients can get treatment that helps them keep their natural smile for an entire lifetime.