One of the most important elements of a good dental care plan is preventative dentistry that you can do at home. Many patients have been unsatisfied with previous dental experiences. Often, this is because they may have only a partial understanding of their situation and what they can do outside of the dentist’s office to avoid common dental issues. The routine preventative dentistry at home is key, and is less expensive and less painful than what results from poor oral hygiene.
What is Preventative Dentistry?
Preventative dentistry is what your dentist often consults you to do when you’re home to take care of your teeth. It’s a type of routine maintenance on yourself to make sure you stay healthy. You should change your oil in your car, you should clean out our air filters, and you should floss.
Preventative Dentistry Tools
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day are the most basic tools of preventative dentistry. There are a variety of toothpastes and flosses to choose from, so you can choose what is best for your teeth and what makes it easiest for you to keep brushing and flossing regularly.
For individuals who grind their teeth, wearing a mouth guard during sleep is important, as is wearing a retainer if needed. These tools can be prescribed by your dentist to ensure you have what you need.
More long term aspects include changing your toothbrush every three months and setting appointments to see your dentist every 6 months. Acknowledging and correcting positional problems of your teeth is important as well, whether this be starting braces or invisalign, or noting when extra measures are needed, such as wisdom teeth removal.
For more detailed dental hygiene tips, click here.
When to Use Preventative Dentistry
Preventative dentistry should start in childhood. Teaching hygiene habits to children is important for them to continue dental hygiene later in life. Mentoring children and especially showing them by example is the best way to perpetuate preventative dentistry.
As an adult, these actions become especially important. Your teeth are done growing in, and they’re the set you’ll have for life. Problems that start can become long-lasting and can impact many other parts of the body. Continuing to use preventative dentistry tools will establish lasting oral health.
For more information about preventive dentistry, especially for kids, click here.
What Happens Without Preventative Dentistry
Without proper oral hygiene, parts of the mouth can fall into disrepair and decay. On top of the obvious mossy teeth and bad breath, you can actually damage your bones.
The gums around your teeth are very sensitive to what happens with your teeth. Often, with unaddressed cavities, the gums can become inflamed or infected, making it painful to the touch, becoming loose around your teeth, and giving you difficulty when you eat or talk.
Brushing or flossing too hard can cause pain and gum receding, which is why it is important to listen to dentists when we instruct on how to clean gently and effectively. Neglecting brushing and flossing can lead to a build up of bacteria causing gum disease like periodontal disease, when the tissue becomes infected. This causes bleeding, gum receding, and tooth misalignment. It also exposes more of the tooth, which leaves the tooth unsupported and less protected, and eventually cause bone loss. You can read more about periodontal disease here.
Jaw bone loss from around and supporting your teeth can also be caused by having out of place or missing teeth. This bone loss can cause you to lose more teeth, either by loosening them further to the point of falling out or by decaying underneath and causing the need for an extraction.
Getting braces and wearing a retainer, as well as wearing mouth guard when needed, can help prevent this by keeping your teeth in place and sitting correctly.
Tooth decay can occur when teeth aren’t cleaned properly. Everyone knows about cavities already, which are caused when bacteria eat through the sides of your teeth and expose the sensitive, less protected parts of your teeth.
Flossing helps prevent this by removing any food that gets stuck between teeth, which makes less for the bacteria to find to start eating. Brushing your teeth helps get out all the smaller pieces of food and removes plaque before it can harden onto your teeth. This is also one reason why biannual cleanings are so important, especially for the plaque you can’t or don’t get out during regular tooth brushing.
All of these situations can be extremely painful. For many issues like these, surgeries are eventually needed. Tooth extractions, crowns, fillings, fake teeth, and a number of changes are the next steps to keep from digestive issues and even heart disease. These are last-ditch methods keep from worsening all-around health.
Please Use Preventative Dentistry!
It is a lot cheaper to prevent these issues than it is to treat them, both monetarily and to your body. As I have gained experience in dentistry my knowledge of teeth and the body has grown steadily, but I haven’t found anything that prevents more than consistent preventative dentistry. It can feel like a lot to do daily at the same time as feeling too little to make a difference, but it is what prevents you from needing shots and surgeries.