As the name appropriately implies, preventive dentistry is all about a preventive approach to oral health care. In the short term, it’s about taking care of your teeth and keeping them as healthy as possible. In the long term, it’s about preventing cavities, diminishing enamel wear, and lessening the probability of gum disease. The truth is, it all starts at home, with good dental hygiene habits.
Preventive dentistry is also about personal responsibility. And while daily maintenance is key to dental health, ongoing professional care is equally important. Here, regular visits to the dentist are vital. By any definition, a proactive approach is far better than a reactive approach - in short, a preventive approach will address immediate concerns, while counteracting chronic conditions.
Brushing the teeth daily is a “no-brainer” for most. Additionally, using fluoride-based toothpastes has proven to be effective. Finally, toothbrushes should be replaced (ideally) every few months.
Many dentists will recommend brushing the tongue. This method will remove residual bacteria that can have a damaging effect on the teeth (tooth decay) as well as the gums (gum disease).
Although still debated, daily flossing is highly recommended. Flossing serves to clean the space between the teeth. Here again, undesirable deposits of plaque and bacteria can be removed.
Brushing or flossing, the dentist’s office is the ideal place to learn about the best techniques. This will ensure that full benefits are derived. In particular, this is the place for children to learn.
Depending on age and dental condition, the minimum to visit the dentist is once a year. Most of the professionals agree that twice yearly is preferred, for dental cleanings and examinations.
Responsible oral health care is also about having a balanced diet - a diet that provides nutrients; limits sugar intake; restricts simple carbohydrates; and includes ample water during the day.
One of the principal benefits of preventive dentistry is the avoidance of serious problems. In fact, with proper care and maintenance, it’s realistically possible to prevent or diminish conditions like gingivitis or periodontitis. In dental practice, the earlier the better - children will benefit in particular because proper dental care will become a lifelong effort. At the same time, with proper care, aging adults can measurably prolong the lifespan of their real teeth, without intervention.
To be sure, oral health is connected to general health. As such, poor oral health can be directly associated with such ailments as diabetes, heart disease, and even respiratory illnesses. It makes sense, therefore, to ensure optimum overall health for the entire body. And once again, this is all about personal responsibility - but not without relying on the services of a dental professional. The day-to-day basics are simple, although the key element for any dentist is early diagnosis.
Not surprisingly, a preventive approach to oral health can also save money. And while preventive dentistry might not entirely eliminate the need for fillings, implants, or surgery, there are many conditions that can be diminished or eliminated, thus reducing the need for costly treatment.