The Importance of Preventive Dentistry

woman smiling

The way you care for your teeth today can have a profound impact on your oral health for years to come. In fact, preventive dentistry can potentially save you thousands of dollars in restorative dental care. Yet, many people neglect preventive dentistry altogether, reasoning that it’s something they’ll address down the road. The problem with this scenario, however, is that preventive dentistry should begin as early as possible– even in childhood. Alternatively, there are also many people who assume that they’re already practicing preventive care by brushing and flossing at home; what they don’t realize, however, is that vigilant home care is only a portion of effective preventive care.

What’s involved in preventive care?

An early start. While it might be too late for you to get an early start on preventive dentistry, it’s important to get your children started ahead of the game. As soon as their first pearly whites erupt, begin a daily tooth cleaning routine. The American Dental Association also recommends an initial visit to the dentist by 12 months of age. When dental care begins early, a solid preventive plan can be put into place. For example, your child’s dentist might recommend dental sealants for the chewing surfaces of the back permanent teeth to prevent tooth decay. As for your own preventive care, remember this oft-cited saying: better late than never.

Diligent at-home care. Preventive care begins at home. If you don’t already have an oral hygiene routine in place, it’s time to establish one. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and before retiring to bed in the evening. You might also consider brushing after meals. Flossing– which enables you to get to those hard-to-reach areas.

Fluoride. Fluoride– which helps prevent tooth decay and can even reverse early decay– is an essential component of preventive dental care. There are a number of ways you can ensure that your teeth are getting sufficient fluoride exposure. First, make sure that you’re brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste. You might also consider using a fluoride mouth rinse. Public water supplies are also fluoridated, so make sure that you’re drinking water often. Finally, your dentist might also recommend in-office fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth and prevent decay.

Regular dental check-ups. There’s no doubt that at-home care is important to your oral health, but professional in-office care is also necessary. Many common dental conditions initially lack symptoms, which means they can progress and cause significant damage before they’re detected. Thus, it’s recommend that you visit your dentist’s office every six months for check-ups, X-rays, and professional cleanings. Your dentist should also conduct oral cancer screenings, which is another important component of preventive care.

A balanced diet. A well-balanced diet isn’t just important to your cardiovascular health; it’s also a vital part of your oral health. Diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates essentially provide food for plaque-producing bacteria. Meanwhile, diets that are lacking in calcium can increase the risk of periodontal disease. Thus, effective preventive care involves a careful examination of your diet and making any necessary adjustments.

Cessation of bad habits. Preventive care requires a commitment to nixing habits that are detrimental to oral health. The adverse effects of smoking on oral health are well-documented. In addition to contributing to dry mouth, tooth discoloration, and gum disease, smoking also significantly increases the risk of oral cancer. It’s a no-brainer, then, that quitting harmful habits like smoking is vital to preventive dental care.

To learn more about how preventive dental care can help you achieve your healthiest smile, contact us today!

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