Prevention is better than the cure, as the age-old saying goes.
Preventive dentistry has an important role in the maintenance of our oral health. We should never forget that our oral health has a huge impact on our overall health. Let us understand preventive dentistry in detail so that we can appreciate the numerous benefits it can offer us in the long run.
What Is Preventive Dentistry?
Preventive dentistry involves procedures that help in maintaining optimum oral health. It is a combination of practising oral hygiene habits like brushing of teeth along with routine dental checkups.
What are the Steps Of Preventive Dental Care?
Preventive dental care should be started right at a young age so that it could be continued throughout a lifetime. This can help you prevent a lot of dental problems like gingivitis or dental cavities. Here are a few basic steps that you can follow to ensure good oral health:
- Brushing your teeth: Make it a habit to brush at least two times a day, in the morning as you wake up and before bed, so that your mouth is free from food debris and plaque. Use only a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth properly. Do not apply undue force on the teeth while brushing as it can do more harm than good to your teeth and gums.
- Flossing: This step is generally missed in the oral care regime as it takes around an extra minute. Yet, the importance of flossing is paramount. It removes the plaque layer stuck in the areas between the teeth. The bristles of your toothbrush would not reach these areas.
- Mouthwash: Though not mandatory, you can use a mouthwash to remove food particles after you complete flossing.
- Tongue cleaning: Cleaning of tongue is essential to prevent bad breath or dental decay as the surface of our tongue can be a good hiding spot for bacteria and food remains.
- Do not smoke: Use of tobacco in any form can lead to cancer and other oral problems.
- Avoid carbonated drinks: Fizzy drinks can wear out the teeth and result in tooth decay. Hence, it is better to avoid them.
- Restrict acidic food intake: Acidic food can corrode the enamel layer of our teeth. Hence, it is better to avoid acidic foods.
Do All Dentists Offer Preventive Dental Care?
The two most common types of dentists who offer preventive dental care are:
- General dental practitioner: Most individuals have a general dental practitioner as their family dentist. If you want dental cleaning or filling, you should consult your general dentist. During routine dental checkup, your dentist will keep you informed about any dental decay or issues that need to be taken care of.
- Paediatric dentist (Children’s dentist): Children should be brought for their first dental consultation as they reach the age of one. A paediatric dentist will observe the changes in the child’s teeth and inform the parents about the issues that need to be addressed. Any extraction, filling or need for an oral appliance can be assessed and managed accordingly.
What Are The Preventive Dental Care Procedures?
To maintain our oral health there are a few dental procedures that are performed as a part of preventive dental care. They are as follows:
- Professional dental cleaning: At least once every six months, one should get a round of professional dental cleaning done. This ensures that your mouth is free from plaque, stains and hard deposits called tartar.
- Pit and fissure sealants: Our back teeth like premolars and molars have natural pits and cracks that may run deep in some individuals. These spots serve good breeding grounds for decay-causing bacteria as they cannot be removed easily by brushing of teeth. Pit and fissure sealants act like a barrier between the tooth and oral bacteria and protect the teeth from decay.
- Application of fluoride: Fluoride is a mineral that fortifies our enamel and makes it resistant to dental decay. Fluoride gel is filled in trays that are placed onto the teeth. Some time is allowed for the fluoride particles to adhere to the surfaces of the teeth. Fluoride application is a very successful preventive procedure for both children and adults.
- Space maintainers: An appliance that holds the space for the permanent teeth to grow in is called a space maintainer. When the milk tooth (baby tooth) falls off, space maintainers are placed to prevent the space from closing. Space closure leads to misaligned teeth or impacted (buried within) teeth, as the permanent tooth lying underneath may not get sufficient space to erupt.
- Enameloplasty: In this procedure, the deep pits on the chewing surfaces of our back teeth are smoothed out. Hence, there is no place for the food debris to lodge into and the food debris just glides over the chewing surfaces instead of getting stuck in the deep pits.
What Are The Advantages Of Preventive Dentistry?
- These preventive procedures reduce the chances of dental decay or cavities.
- They help in keeping your gums in a healthy condition and prevent gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Preventive dentistry inculcates beneficial oral habits like brushing of teeth twice a day and flossing one daily.
- It helps in early identification and management of problems related to the alignment of teeth.
- It helps the dentist identify any relevant dental or oral issues at an early stage and initiate treatment as well. This minimises the treatment time and cost in most of the cases.
- As oral health has a strong impact on our overall health, those who suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes need to maintain good oral health as their general health may deteriorate if they fail to do so.