Preventive dentistry is the modern way of reducing the amount of dental treatment necessary to maintain a healthy mouth. With the dentist and the patient working together the aim is to prevent the need for further treatment.
This avoids the traditional pattern of fillings and extractions. It is likely that we will work out a course of treatment to get your mouth into excellent condition, and then give you a plan to help you keep it that way.
It helps you to keep your teeth. The two major causes of tooth loss are decay and gum disease. The better we prevent or deal with these two problems, the more chance people have of keeping their teeth for life.
Preventive dentistry will benefit anyone with some of their own teeth. It is excellent for children and young people, but it is never too late to start.
We will first assess your teeth and gums, and discuss with you any treatment you need. The main aim is to help you to get your mouth really healthy, so that any dental problems do not come back. In a healthy mouth it is unlikely that decay or gum disease will continue to be a problem.
We will make sure that all your fillings are good and there are no rough edges to make cleaning difficult. Will show you the best ways to brush and floss to remove the bacterial ‘plaque’ which forms constantly on your teeth and gums. You will be advised which is the ideal brush for you to use, very probably one with a small head.
Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria, which forms constantly on the teeth and gums. When you eat or drink something sugary, the plaque turns the sugar into acid, which will cause tooth decay. Plaque will also cause gum inflammation if it is not regularly and thoroughly removed. The hard tartar (calculus) which builds up on the teeth also starts off as plaque.
Food and drinks containing sugar cause decay. Having sweet things less often will help a lot. Foods such as cheese, fruit, nuts and vegetables make good substitutes.
Fluoride helps teeth resist decay. If we think added fluoride would be useful, we may recommend a fluoride gel, may also suggest fluoride rinses, tablets or drops as an extra help against decay for use at home. Only use these if you have been advised to, and follow the instructions carefully.
The biting surfaces of children’s teeth can be protected by ‘sealants’. These make the tooth surface smoother and easier to clean, and stop decay starting in the difficult-to-clean areas.
The process of getting your mouth healthy doesn’t stop. It is very important that you keep up a good routine to keep your teeth and gums healthy at home. This means brushing and flossing as you have been shown, and being careful to check how often you have foods or drinks that will encourage decay.
It is important to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. There are now many specialised toothpastes including tartar control, ones for sensitive teeth and total care toothpastes. Mouthwashes can help, and again, there are many different types available.
You will also need regular sessions with your dentist to check on the improvement and give you any help and encouragement. Having a healthy mouth does not happen straight away. It may take several months, and will need continual care to keep it that way in the future.
We will often recommend treatment to reinforce a tooth to make sure that it does not break. For example, if we see that a tooth is cracked, or is weak and in danger or breaking, we may suggest a new filling or perhaps a crown or ‘onlay’ to protect it. This is always better than waiting till the tooth breaks, and then working out how best to deal with it, perhaps as an emergency.
With the right partnership between patient and dentist preventive dentistry can change the traditional pattern of continuing dental health.
To have a healthy mouth and teeth you need:
- to remove all plaque every day
- good eating habits- be aware of the danger of having sweet foods often
- regular visits to the dentist to check the condition of your teeth and gums
Important things in preventive dentistry include..,
- proper brushing and flossing techniques
- fluoride treatment
- pit and fissure sealants
Daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth is important because it removes plaque. if the plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build up, feeding on the food debris left behind and causing tooth decay and gum disease.
When you eat food containing sugars and starches, the bacteria in plaque produce acids, which attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with teeth. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel can break down forming a hole or cavity.
Plaque can harden into something called calculus another name for it is ‘tartar’. As calculus forms near the gumline, the plaque underneath releases toxins causing the gums to become irritated and inflamed. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth. If Gum disease is not treated promptly, the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed and healthy teeth may be lost. Gum disease is the biggest cause of tooth loss in adults and can lead to dentures, bridges or implants.
There are certain places in your mouth that are difficult to reach with your normal brush. There are also some gaps between your teeth that your toothbrush will not be able to access. Over the course of a day, food and debris get lodged in between your teeth, and in any gaps you may have. If left, this debris can cause dental decay and gum disease. Removing food debris and plaque with an interdental brush will help keep your breath fresh. Cleaning in between your teeth makes sure that you are cleaning your mouth as thoroughly as possible.
Interdental brushes are small brushes that can be held between your thumb and your fingers. They are available in various sizes which enables you to choose which size is most suitable for you. You may need to use more than one size to enable you to effectively clean all spaces between your teeth. These small brushes should be used as part of your normal oral hygiene routine to be effective. With its small filaments and tiny bottle type head, the brush can be moved between the teeth to remove debris and plaque.
Gum disease (gingivitis) will show itself as red, swollen gums that bleed when brushed or flossed. Many people are alarmed when they notice this bleeding and will then brush more gently, if at all. It is important that you continue to clean regularly and firmly in order to fight the condition.
Adults should choose a small to medium size brush with soft to medium multi-tufted, round-ended nylon bristles or ‘filaments’. The head should be small enough to get into all parts of the mouth: especially the back of the mouth where cleaning can be difficult. Children need to use smaller brushes but with the same type of filaments.
You can now get more specialised toothbrushes. For instance, people with sensitive teeth can now use ultra-soft bristled brushes.
Some people find it difficult to hold a toothbrush, for example because they have Parkinson’s disease or a physical disability. There are now toothbrushes, which have large handles and angled heads to make them easier to use.
Worn-out toothbrushes cannot clean your teeth properly and may damage your gums. It is important to change your toothbrush every two to three months or sooner if the filaments become worn. When filaments become splayed, they do not clean properly.
Here is one method of removing plaque:
- Place the head of your toothbrush against your teeth and angle against the gumline. Move the brush in small circular movements, several times, on all the surfaces of each individual tooth.
- Brush the outer surfaces of each tooth, upper and lower, keeping the bristles angled against the gumline.
- Use the same method on the inside surfaces of all your teeth.
- Brush the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
- To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several small circular strokes with the toe (the front part) of the brush.
- Brushing your tongue will help freshen your breath and will clean your mouth by removing bacteria.
Be sure to brush thoroughly with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day, more often if your dentist recommends it. If you keep getting discomfort or bleeding after brushing come and see us.