Oral health plays a significant role in the beauty of your smile and your overall well-being. However, tooth decay and gum disease can wreak havoc on your smile and affect your quality of life. Although they are treatable when caught early, it is better to prevent oral health issues before they occur or become more complicated.
The best way to safeguard and maintain your oral health is through preventive dental care. It refers to the practice of taking care of your teeth and gums through proper hygiene habits and regular checkups. It is advisable to begin preventive dental care during childhood and keep the practice going throughout your adulthood. Note that it is never too late to start and benefit from preventive dental care.
You can practice preventive care both at home and professionally with the help of your dentist. Home practice includes steps that you can do without your dentist’s expert care. Your dentist performs professional preventive dental care procedures such as checkups and regular cleanings.
Unlike other dental treatments that insurance does not cover, such as cosmetic dentistry, preventive dental care is a priority for insurance plans. This is because preventive dentistry is crucial for your oral health as it prevents more complicated illnesses that would be difficult and expensive to treat.
Services Included in Preventive Dentistry
As the name suggests, preventive dentistry comprises all procedures and treatments that reduce your risk of more severe oral health problems. The following services fall under the umbrella of preventive dentistry:
1. Dental Exams and X-rays
Dental exams are a comprehensive evaluation of your oral health situation. Your dentist visually checks for any signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer. They will also use digital x-rays to check for issues like abscesses and tumors. X-rays show problems may be invisible during a visual exam.
2. Tooth Cleanings
Tooth cleanings are professional dental cleanings that your dentist carries out at least twice a year. If you suffer from gum disease, intensive cleaning known as scaling and root planing may be necessary to remove bacteria, shrink pockets and promote healing.
3. Oral Health Education
You cannot take care of your teeth properly without the right information on how to go about it. As part of preventive dentistry, your dentist gives tips and advice on the best methods and products to use to maintain your oral health.
4. Fluoride and Sealants
Sealants are specialized coatings that your dentist applies to your teeth to protect them against cavities. They work by forming a barrier between bacteria and your enamel and prevents food from sticking on the groves of your teeth. Fluoride strengthens your enamel with minerals, reducing the risk of tooth decay and sensitivity.
If you engage in high contact sports or activities like hiking that expose you to falls and accidents, mouth guards are ideal for you. You wear them over your teeth to protect them against trauma as a result of accidents.
What is Not Considered Preventive Dental Care?
After understanding what preventive dentistry entails, it is essential to know what does not count as preventive dental care. Understanding the differences will help you plan effectively for your oral health.
Any treatment that aims at treating already existing dental problems does not count as preventive dental care. These include major procedures like oral surgery, tooth fillings, root canal therapy, orthodontics, periodontal treatments, and tooth extractions. Cosmetic dental treatments like teeth whitening do not fall into the preventive dental care category.
Benefits of Preventive Dentistry
Preventing oral health problems is much easier and cheaper than treating them. Some of the benefits of prevention include:
- Prevents oral health problems like gum disease, tooth decay, and systemic illnesses associated with poor oral health.
- Promotes good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Allows for early identification of dental health problems through regular checkups.
- Saves you time and money that you would otherwise spend on extensive treatments.
Support Your Oral Health at Home
To reap the full benefits of preventive dentistry, you need to take responsibility for your oral health. You can do this by brushing twice a day to keep your teeth clean and flossing daily to remove food stuck between teeth where a brush may not reach. Doing this helps prevent food particles from becoming plaque, which may cause tooth decay and gum disease.
As you brush your teeth, also scrape your tongue to avoid the accumulation of bacteria. It also boosts your tongue’s appearance and sense of taste. Lastly, go for regular dental checkups to maintain your oral health and catch any issues before they escalate.