In terms of preserving your oral health and ensuring that your smile lasts a lifetime, preventative dentistry may be the most important branch of dental care. In essence, preventative dentistry refers to all the care you give your teeth to keep them healthy. This covers a wide variety of activities and routines, but they all aim towards the same goal. Done correctly, preventative dental care can be a major step in avoiding several oral health problems, including:
- Cavities and tooth decay
- Gum diseases like gingivitis
- Receding gums
- Sensitive teeth or tooth pain
- Tooth loss
- Tooth wear or tooth damage
You may have noticed that this list includes the most common oral health problems experienced by most people. This shows the importance of preventative dental care, as it helps you avoid the most likely issues you and your teeth might face.
So what goes into preventative dental care? Generally, there are three major components of preventative dentistry:
- Regular exams and cleanings
- Regular dental x-rays
- Regular brushing and flossing at home
These practices fill different roles within preventative dentistry. Regular exams and cleanings are your dentist or dental hygienist’s chance to examine your teeth, give them professional care, and inspect them for any potential problems. A good cleaning does a lot to remove plaque and tartar and promote healthy teeth and gums. Regular x-rays give your dentist a chance to look inside your teeth and see if there are any cavities or damage forming that might be less visible to the naked eye. This, again, helps to address problems before they get serious. Finally, regular brushing and flossing at home may seem mundane, but it does more than anything else to promote good oral health for a lifetime.
So with that in mind, what do you as a patient need to do to participate in your own preventive dentistry? The good news is that there are a handful of steps you can take that will enhance your experience with preventative dentistry and make the process more effective.
While it may sound obvious, the most important step in preventative dentistry happens at home with regular brushing and flossing. Nothing does more to prevent oral health problems, so make sure this is part of your daily routine. Brushing thoroughly after every meal for at least 2 minutes and rinsing your mouth afterward removes debris and bacteria and prevents plaque and tartar build-up. Flossing at least once a day removes debris from between your teeth, helping prevent bacteria growth and cavities.
The next piece is to ensure that you make regular appointments with Plage Dentistry for exams and cleanings. As we discussed above, this is your chance to ensure your teeth get professional treatment via a deep cleaning and a professional exam. Your dentist may decide to include dental x-rays as part of the exam, which will enhance their ability to detect and diagnose problems. They’ll alert you to any potential issues and suggest a course of treatment.
Finally, a healthy diet is a key step in preventative dentistry. Eating a diet centered on vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains goes a long way towards helping you keep your teeth and gums healthy. Avoiding sugars and processed starches can prevent tooth decay, as can staying away from alcohol and tobacco. This may seem like a bit of a sacrifice but in the long-run health, teeth mean a lot more than dessert!
Open communication with your dentist is an important part of preventative dentistry, and that starts with making and keeping regular appointments. So if it’s been a while and you’re overdue for a cleaning–or if you just have some questions–get in touch today. We’re here to help you ensure that your smile is the best it can possibly be.