Preventive dentistry is your foundation for a healthy smile. With regular cleanings and exams, small dental issues can be caught before they turn into large and costly problems. Preventive dental care along with a diligent at-home brushing and flossing routine can help prevent dental issues all together. It’s these small investments in your oral hygiene that lead to a beautiful, healthy smile.
Dental plaque is made up of more than 300 different types of bacteria.
Every dental appointment begins with a thorough cleaning from your dentist or dental hygienist. They will clean away plaque, tartar and bacteria, buff and polish your teeth, and floss your teeth to ensure that your smile looks bright and beautiful.
If you haven’t had x-rays recently, or if your dentist suspects that there may be hidden issues with your teeth, they may recommend that x-rays be taken. These images help our team see potential issues hiding below the gumline and within teeth.
After your teeth are cleaned and x-rays have been taken, your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth for any signs of oral health issues, like cavities, gum disease, and abnormalities of the tissues. X-rays will also be examined to ensure that every potential issue has been detected.
During your exam, your dentist will discuss with you the state of your oral health and any potential problems that they see. At this time, a treatment plan is developed. Your doctor will provide you with recommendations to resolve the issues and discuss the best treatment options for your lifestyle and budget.
Teeth cleanings are essential for maintaining a healthy mouth. Seeing an oral hygienist and a dentist every six months ensures that minor stains, plaque, and bacteria can be removed from your teeth, and that your smile remains healthy and strong.
Good at-home oral hygiene is also important. Make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes using fluoride-based toothpaste, and floss once per day to get rid of food particles, plaque, and bacteria that can’t be removed with brushing alone.
Fluoride treatments can be applied to the teeth after any teeth cleaning. Your dentist will apply a layer of fluoride-rich gel or paste directly to your teeth, and leave it in place for several minutes. Then, it will be rinsed away.
After treatment, the fluoride will attract minerals like calcium and phosphates to your teeth, strengthening and “remineralizing” them. This, in turn, helps prevent the formation of cavities.
Dental sealants are a great way to fight back against cavities, and can be used on patients of all ages. Sealants are made up of a layer of liquid dental resin, which your dentist will apply directly to the rear teeth. Usually, sealants are only used on the rear teeth because their deep crevices are more prone to cavities.
This resin is hardened using a UV light, creating a strong, transparent barrier. This blocks food debris, acid, and bacteria from contact with your enamel. A strong dental sealant can prevent the formation of cavities for up to 10 years.
Periodontal care is an essential part of preventive dentistry for patients who have gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is known as “gingivitis,” and it can be reversed with specialized deep cleanings and proper at-home oral hygiene. It’s important to see your dentist for regular checkups so they can monitor your oral health and ensure gingivitis is at bay.
Patients with more advanced cases of gum disease can never fully eradicate the disease, although it can be maintained with more frequent, deep cleanings. Routine periodontal maintenance cleanings are typically scheduled every 3 months and can halt the progression of the disease, keeping their oral health under control.
Oral cancer screenings are an essential part of preventive care. Oral cancer is often hard to detect until it spreads more widely and becomes more serious. However, your dentist can detect signs early simply by performing an oral exam at your biannual dental appointments.
Your dentist will examine your mouth, gums, and oral tissues. They will look for discolored patches, lumps, growths, and other such abnormalities. In the rare case that an issue is found, a biopsy can be taken and sent to a specialist for further analysis, or your dentist will refer you to a specialist directly. Consistent dental visits allow your dentist to become familiar with your oral health, which in turn, allows them to more easily notice when there may be something wrong.
Regular flossing allows you to clean an additional 40% of your tooth surface.
You need to brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. While brushing, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gums, and use small, circular strokes to clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. You should spend about 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth.
In addition, remember to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every 3-4 months, and to use an ADA-approved toothpaste with fluoride.
First, unroll about 18-24 inches of floss. Wind most of the floss around the index or middle finger of one of your hands. Then, wind the last few inches around the index or middle finger of your opposite hand.
Use your thumbs to pinch a 1-inch section of floss between your fingers. Gently move this section of floss between your teeth with a rocking motion. When the floss reaches your gumline, hug the floss against one of your teeth to create a “c” shape and move it up and down to dislodge plaque and bacteria. Do the same motion against the adjacent tooth to clear below both sides of the gum.
Next, gently remove the floss from between your teeth. Wind a new 1-inch section of floss between your fingers, move to the next tooth, and repeat.
Prophylactic cleanings are required for all patients. They are the regular cleanings you get every 6 months at your dental appointments. During most cleanings, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove plaque, tartar and bacteria from your teeth, buff and polish them, and then floss your teeth to remove any residual debris.
Periodontal cleanings are different. They’re only needed if you have periodontal or gum disease. This process, also known as a “deep cleaning” is done in two appointments, usually with half of your mouth cleaned at each appointment. Your dentist will scrape away plaque and tartar from between your teeth and gums, and smooth the roots of your teeth to eliminate pockets that trap bacteria. Unless you have gum disease, you won’t need a periodontal cleaning.
Most dental insurance policies will cover at least a portion of basic preventive care, and usually 100% is covered. Preventive care treatments include prophylactic teeth cleanings every 6 month, any necessary x-rays (usually once a year), and an annual or biannual dental exam performed by your dentist. For children, dental insurance policies may also cover the cost of optional preventive treatments, like dental sealants and fluoride treatments.
However, insurance policies do differ and it’s up to the patient to understand their coverage. Make sure you consult with your provider so you know exactly what’s covered and what will likely be out-of-pocket.
Over 90% of American adults have had a cavity at some point in their lives.