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Means of Oral Preventative Care

What is preventative care dentistry? Preventive dental care is essential to keeping your teeth healthy throughout the course of your life, from adolescence to old age. Proper preventative care is more than just your teeth, good dental care can have an impact on your overall health. In fact, having poor oral health may contribute to diabetes and heart disease. Preventive dental services include routine oral exams, X-rays, cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments. The benefit of preventative care is that it can lower your risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease. It promotes proper dental habits like flossing and brushing. Additionally, oral prevention can help reduce the costs of possible procedures needed later in life by utilizing early detection. Preventative care gives you and your dentist sufficient time to identify, treat, and reverse any issues that arise. Preventive dentistry is particularly important for kids because good dental hygiene paves the way for healthy teeth and gums as they progress toward adulthood.

There are a lot of different types of dentists with their own specialties. Those that provide preventive dentistry include general dentists and pediatric, or children’s, dentists. Fillings, resin restorations, root canals, and extractions, are all beyond preventive dental care and basic required procedures. For these services, you may be required to pay toward a deductible, coinsurance, or a copay. This all depends on your dental insurance plan. So, what is covered under your preventive benefit? You may only be covered for 2 teeth cleanings a year, and only certain X-rays are covered. Discuss this with your dentist, because preventative care should not be avoided. Here are some of the common preventative care dentistry services.

Regular Oral Exams

An oral exam will gather all the necessary information for your mouth and oral health. This exam will usually be completed at your first appointment with a new dentist, as well as every few years to update all current information and charting. This exam helps the dentist get up-to-date information on the state of your mouth and teeth. During the exam, your dentist will chart any missing, chipped, broken or decayed teeth. They will also take note of any existing fillings, crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, or prosthetics. Your dentist will then assess the position and occlusion of the teeth, your jaw joint, and your gum measurements to check for gum disease. They will also take photos of your teeth for record-keeping. Lastly, your dentist will have recommendations for your home oral self-care regimen and discuss any treatment plans if necessary.

Oral exams are used to identify a specific issue in one particular area of the mouth, such as pain, swelling, or broken teeth. The complete oral exam is important because it provides a full assessment and diagnoses any issues in an early stage. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that existing patients undergo a comprehensive exam every 3 years and new patients have a comprehensive dental exam on their first visit. Sometimes it is suggested that children get this done more often – about every 6 months or less because their teeth are continuously changing at a young age. A child’s first dental visit should take place by their first birthday, or six months after the first tooth becomes visible — whichever is earlier. Dental cavities and gum disease are very common in children. According to the World Health Organization: between 60 and 90 percent of school children have at least one dental cavity. Do not skip out on your regular oral exams. Although these are basic, they are very important in early detection and maintaining a healthy mouth.

Teeth Cleaning and X-Rays

Tooth cleaning is essential for dental hygiene, which involves removing dental plaque by scaling and planing the tooth. Teeth cleaning prevents cavities, brightens your smile, reduces bad breath, prevents tooth loss, and boosts your overall health. With regular teeth cleaning, the risk of developing unpleasant oral conditions can be reduced. When you go into your routine teeth cleaning, the plaque and bad bacteria are removed, thus minimizing your chances of getting cavities or other issues with your teeth. Additionally, if you do not get your teeth cleaned you can get swollen and bleeding gums, called periodontal disease. The American Dental Association recommends that you visit your dentist at least once a year to get a routine examination and cleaning. If you have a history of periodontal disease, you should get your teeth cleaned more often than that. It is suggested to get your teeth cleaned even every 3 months for most people. Even with proper brushing and flossing, teeth cleaning is better at getting plaque and bacteria that can be missed. The missed plaque eventually hardens on the teeth into tartar. Inadequate removal of tartar, especially below the gum line, can be irritating to the gum tissue and cause bleeding, pain, and bad breath.

X-rays are also a very important aspect of preventative care. Dental X-rays are pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues around them to help find problems with the teeth, mouth, and jaw. X-ray pictures can show cavities, wisdom teeth, and bone loss that cannot be seen during a typical examination. The benefits of dental x-rays include accuracy for preventative care, progress tracking, and quicker treatment. Many tooth and gum problems are undetectable with the naked eye. Before, yearly x-rays were often recommended by dentists. Now the American Dental Association recommends that healthy adults with no major apparent dental problems only need to get x-rays about every 2-3 years. For children, pediatric dental x-rays are an essential tool to monitor the development of their teeth and look for symptoms of decay or other oral conditions. Additionally, pediatric dentists take extra precautions to ensure that their patients are not exposed to a large amount of radiation.

Brushing and Flossing

Most of your oral health is up to your own actions. Routinely brushing and flossing is one of the best means of preventative oral care. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits on your own to help keep your teeth and gums healthy in between these appointments.

Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day, using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist will typically recommend the best toothbrush and toothpaste for you to maintain your oral health. There is also a method for proper teeth brushing. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Gently move the brush back and forth in short strokes. Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth. A person on average only brushes their teeth for 45 to 70 seconds. However, the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time. If you spend less than two minutes brushing, you won’t remove as much plaque from your teeth.

In addition to brushing, you should also be flossing. Floss daily to get food that is stuck between teeth before it turns to plaque. Flossing daily is the absolute best, but even 3-4 times a week can make a significant difference in the state of your teeth and gums. More than 1 in 4 (26%) adults in the United States have untreated tooth decay because of a lack of solid teeth flossing routine. There is also a correct and incorrect way to floss. Gently glide the floss up and down, rubbing it against both sides of each tooth. Don’t glide the floss into your gums because that can cause damage. After flossing, it is recommended to follow up with mouthwash. Mouthwash used daily is a great way to freshen your breath and kill any harmful bacteria left over after flossing and brushing. Although it may seem simple, according to a study by Delta Dental, 31% of Americans fail to brush their teeth at least twice a day, with two percent admitting to not brushing at all.

Preventive dentistry services should not be ignored. Seeing your dentist regularly and preventing oral health problems can help you maintain your overall health and wellness as you age. Severe dental decay can lead to extremely costly dental treatments. Preventative care can also save you time, money, and potential discomfort by avoiding serious dental disease. A significant factor of preventative care starts at home, so get your brushing and flossing routine down.

Preventive dentistry is beneficial to all people throughout their lives, but preventative care for children is of the utmost importance. We will help your children achieve optimal dental health. Visit Smilez Pediatric Dental Group for your children and we will discuss the best preventative oral care for them.