Preventative dental care is the single most important thing you can do for your oral health to avoid serious conditions and costly restorations. Having a healthy, beautiful smile will help you feel happier and confident in your daily life. A good preventative care routine starts at home with good oral hygiene habits and continues in the dental office with professional cleanings and exams.
Understanding The Oral-Systemic Connection
Over the years, dentists and medical professionals have realized the connection between oral health and overall health. An infection in one part of the body may have widespread consequences, making it critical for you to keep yourself healthy at all times. The oral-systemic connection refers to the link between oral health and the health of your entire body.
Did you know that oral complications can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, pancreatic cancer, and diabetes? More specifically, gum infections provide a way for bacteria to access your bloodstream. If you have infected gums, your roots and nerve endings become exposed to harmful bacteria. Periodontal care is a critical part of maintaining and supporting the oral-systemic connection and ensuring your smile is both healthy and beautiful.
THE GOAL OF PREVENTIVE DENTISTRY
Preventive dentistry includes all the services and practices of caring for your teeth to keep them healthy. dentists offer many forms of preventive dentistry, such as dental cleanings, exams, sealants, and fluoride. visiting dental office at regular intervals to maintain optimal oral health and keep your teeth clean, strong, and beautiful.
Some of preventive services include:
- Professional Cleanings
- Regular Exams & X-Rays
- Topical Fluoride & Sealants
- Fillings, Crowns, & Bridges
- Root Canal Therapy
Preventive care does more than just keep your smile beautiful. Removing harmful plaque and bacteria from your teeth reduces gum inflammation that can spread to other areas of your body. Oral health promotes overall health, lowering your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and complications during pregnancy.
Regular visits and cleanings at dental office are the core of effective prevention. Going to the dentist may not be at the top of the list of your favorite things to do. It can be tempting to skip a six-month exam or cleaning because your teeth and gums look and feel great.
Even though you may be vigilant with your brushing and flossing, there could be problems that you cannot see or feel. Regular cleanings and preventive care can find minor dental issues or gum disease before they grow into more severe issues.
Everyone can benefit from preventive dentistry, no matter your age. It is never too late to start achieving the benefits of prevention. The earlier you start, the better your dental health will be, which means it is always best to start young. For children, this can be as early as the day their first tooth appears. However, even if you have strayed from regular dental care, you can still benefit from getting back on track with routine preventive exams and cleanings. Even adults with dentures will benefit from preventive care to keep their oral health at its best.
THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE
Regular cleanings can prevent or catch gum disease in its earliest stage. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque along your gum line and has three phases:
- Gingivitisoccurs where bacteria accumulates and causes gum irritation in the form of tenderness, redness, and minor bleeding.
- Periodontitisis the progression of plaque and tartar buildup that causes separation between the gums and teeth and traps bacteria and debris in the open space.
- Advanced periodontitisis when bacteria begin to attack the bone and connective tissue below the gum line, breaking down the support that holds your teeth in place and gives you a healthy bite.
Catching dental issues in their earliest stages during cleaning and preventive care visits help preserve your teeth and gums. It can save you the pain and discomfort of advanced disease and extensive repairs. This also means less money and time spent on more extensive dental treatments. Preventing gum disease from worsening and spreading is also essential for your overall health. Untreated dental infections and inflammation can cause other health problems that could otherwise be avoided.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A REGULAR CLEANING AND EXAM?
There are multiple parts to regular cleanings and exams. Each part is an essential piece for maintaining your oral health and helping prevent serious problems in the future. During your exam, your teeth, gums, soft tissues, and jaw will be thoroughly examined by our team, and diagnostic tools are used to get the most relevant information.
Digital radiography, known as digital X-rays, use an electronic sensor versus traditional X-ray film to images of your teeth. While conventional dental x-rays exposed you to low levels of radiation, digital X-rays reduce that exposure by up to 90 percent.
Oral Cancer Screening
At each visit, dentist does a medical history update and reviews any changes (even subtle ones). Even the smallest change in the soft tissues of your mouth will be examined closely. Early detection of oral cancer saves many lives each year, and our team is highly trained to detect even the smallest abnormality.
Removal of Plaque and Tartar
A professional cleaning during a preventive exam is a must for good oral health. Home brushing and flossing can only do so much. Even the most diligent brushing can miss difficult areas where plaque can accumulate and harden into tartar. Once tartar forms, it can gradually eat away at your enamel and cause decay. Tartar cannot be removed with routine brushing, which makes visiting our office for professional cleanings essential.
UNDERSTANDING THE THREE TYPES OF DENTAL CLEANINGS
There are different levels of gum disease, and each one needs specialized treatment. The type of treatment dental team will perform will depend on your particular needs and level of infection. These professional cleaning treatments are the best way to reverse the damaging effects of gum disease.
Regular Cleaning or Prophylaxis
A regular or prophylaxis cleaning is the cleaning most commonly performed. It is considered routine maintenance cleaning for patients who have good oral health, visit the dentists regularly, and practice good oral hygiene. The dental hygienist performing this treatment will clean areas that are often almost impossible to reach with your toothbrush or by flossing. Your hygienist will remove plaque and tartar that has built up since your last cleaning. This is done by using special tools that can get to plaque and tartar in tight spaces or around and just below your gum line. Minor stains on the teeth can also be removed during this cleaning.
Deep Cleaning or Scaling & Root Planning
Deep cleanings or scaling and root planning fully covers the gums, gum line, and supporting structures of the teeth. This cleaning is recommended if you have periodontitis. With scaling and root planing, the surface of the tooth root is smoothed out to remove any existing tartar and plaque. Several visits may be needed to complete this type of cleaning.
Individuals who have serious oral health concerns, including periodontitis, may require more frequent visits for cleaning. These cleanings may take place over a specific period or until all the symptoms of gum disease are entirely under control, or the oral health concerns have been resolved.
FINISHING TOUCHES AND CONTINUED ORAL HEALTH EDUCATION
Polishing is performed after your routine dental exam to remove stains, plaque, and other microorganisms that may form on the surface of your teeth. The polishing can provide instant results by improving how your teeth look and feel. cleanings are only effective on external stains but can still provide significant results.
experienced dental hygienist will use a prophylaxis paste for polishing. This paste has an abrasive quality to smooth the surface of each tooth.
ORAL HEALTH MAINTENANCE WITH EXPERT BRUSHING & FLOSSING INSTRUCTION
During your cleaning and routine dental exam, will provide brushing and flossing instruction to you or your child. This may include a demonstration of proper techniques and any special instructions you may need. An example of such instructions may include how to:
- Floss properly
- Gently brush thoroughly and carefully
- Scrub your tongue to reduce bacteria
- Use mouthwash to reach difficult areas
- Understand the best times to brush
As damaging as plaque can be, it is easily removed by mechanical brushing. Plaque deposits build up on the teeth fairly quickly after eating and drinking, and if they are not brushed away at least twice a day, they can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. It takes just one day for bacteria to build up enough to make your mouth susceptible to disease.
If plaque is not removed, it hardens and becomes calculus (tartar). Calculus cannot be removed with regular brushing. Your hygienist has special instruments designed to remove tartar.
Daily flossing is an effective way to clean teeth where regular brushing can’t reach. To floss properly, take 18″ of dental floss, wrap it around the middle finger of each hand, and pinch it between your thumb and index finger. Pull the floss taut, then slide it gently between each tooth and under the gum line. Slide the floss up and down the side of each tooth to remove plaque buildup. Be sure to use a clean section of floss as you move from tooth to tooth.
Over-the-counter mouth rinses can help to fight bad breath, remove loose food particles after brushing, and freshen the mouth. However, mouth rinses are never a substitute for brushing, flossing, or regular dental examinations, and may disguise warning signs of periodontal disease.
MORE PROTECTION WITH FLUORIDE TREATMENT
dentists may recommend having a fluoride treatment during your or your child’s regular cleanings and exams. Fluoride is a mineral that is important for protecting your teeth. It is used to replenish the enamel and add a layer of protection from acids formed by sugar and plaque in your mouth.
In some cases, it can help reverse decay in its earliest stages. In children, fluoride helps with the development of their permanent teeth. During your dental exam, dentists apply fluoride to your teeth in the form of a gel, foam, or vanish, and may also recommend a fluoride supplement.
IMPROVING ORAL HEALTH WITH DIET EDUCATION
Avoiding sugar and sugary drinks is a good start, but there are other dietary choices you can make to help prevent tooth decay. A healthy diet loaded with vitamins and minerals can help keep your teeth strong and your gums healthy.
To maintain optimal oral health, dentists recommend a balanced diet that consists of:
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Low-fat dairy products