Preventive dentistry is oral care that involves education, treatment and practice of maintaining your teeth and gums. In doing so, this helps to avoid cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, and much more.
There are many forms of preventive dentistry, such as daily brushing and dental cleanings. To maintain optimal oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends visits to the dentist at regular intervals (every 6 to 12 months) determined by a dentist. These practices are designed to ensure that teeth are clean, strong, and white. Children should also be taught proper oral hygiene habits at an early age.
Dental Exams and Preventative Cleanings
Routine exams are an important part of maintaining your oral health. During your regular exams, we will:
Check for any problems you may not see or feel
Look for cavities or other signs of tooth decay
Inspect your teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
Perform a thorough teeth cleaning
Your regular exam will take about 45 minutes. Each regular exam includes a detailed teeth cleaning, during which we will clean, polish, and rinse your teeth to remove any tartar and plaque that have built up on the tooth’s surface. Visiting our office every 6 months gives you ample opportunity to ask the doctor any concerns you may have about your oral health.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer develops within your mouth or oral cavity. It’s one of a group of cancers involving your head and neck. The majority of oral cancers start in the cells that line your mouth and throat. These are classified as squamous cell carcinoma. The goal of an oral cancer screening is to identify the cancer early on. If you have any unexplained or persistent symptoms, you should see your dentist or healthcare provider as soon as possible. Some dentists may use additional tests (such as a biopsy) to aid in identifying areas of abnormal cells in your mouth. If you do have oral cancer, getting diagnosed and treated early on can significantly improve your chance of curative treatment.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that creates strong teeth and prevents decay. It has been an essential oral health treatment for decades. Fluoride supports healthy tooth enamel and fights the bacteria (Streptococcus Mutans and Lactobacillus) that harm teeth and gums.
Fluoride is especially helpful if you’re at high risk of developing dental caries, or cavities. Cavities occur when bacteria accumulate on teeth and gums and form a filmy layer of plaque. Plaque produces an acid that erodes the dentition and gum tissue. If the plaque is there for an extended period of time, it will break down the enamel layer, thus allowing the bacteria to infect and harm the nerves and blood at the core of the tooth.
Following fluoride treatment, you may be asked not to rinse, eat, or drink (including water) for a minimum of 30 minutes in order to allow the teeth to adequately absorb the fluoride. Depending on your oral health or your doctor’s recommendation, it may be recommended to have a fluoride treatment completed every 3,6, or 12 months.
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it’s not always easy to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth – especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It can be difficult for your toothbrush to get in between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay.
Sealants are a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth and gives your teeth extra that extra layer of protection against decay.
Sealants may last from three to five years, but it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from their childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact, so if your sealants come off, please let us know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be re-sealed.
Children may need space maintainers if they lose a primary (baby) tooth early or the tooth has been extracted due to significant dental decay. If either is the case, it is important to understand the benefits of using a space maintainer and how it can help support your child's dental health.
A space maintainer is an appliance that is custom-made by a dental laboratory using metal material and is cemented in a child's mouth. Its purpose is to keep the space open to allow the permanent successor to erupt and come into its proper place. Baby teeth are important to the development of the teeth, jaw bones and muscles and help to guide permanent teeth into position when the baby teeth are lost. If a space is not adequately maintained, then teeth can shift into the open space and orthodontic treatment may be required. Not every child who loses a baby tooth early or to dental decay requires a space maintainer; however, a professional consultation with your dentist or orthodontist should be conducted to determine if using a space maintainer is necessary.
Whether you wear braces or not, protecting your smile while playing sports is essential. Mouthguards help protect your teeth and gums from injury. If you participate in any kind of full-contact sport, the American Dental Association recommends you wear a mouthguard.
Choosing the right mouthguard is essential. There are three basic types of mouthguards: the pre-made mouthguard, the “boil-and-bite” fitted mouthguard, and a custom-made mouthguard from a dentist. When you choose a mouthguard, be sure to pick one that is tear-resistant, comfortable and well-fitted for your mouth, easy to keep clean, and does not prevent you from breathing properly.
We can show you how to wear a mouthguard properly and how to choose the right mouthguard to protect your smile.
Nightguard (Occlusal Guard)
If you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth throughout the day, you may have a common condition called “bruxism.” Your teeth are not meant to be clenched and in contact all the time. They should only briefly touch each other when you swallow or chew. If they are in contact too often or too forcefully, it can wear down the tooth enamel. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken or cracked teeth, or even tooth loss.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are a simple solution to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding may cause over time. These night guards are custom-made by a laboratory from soft material to fit your teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.