What Is Preventive Dentistry?
Preventive dentistry is the practice of caring for one’s teeth to keep them healthy. This helps to avoid cavities, gum disease, enamel wear, and more.
There are many forms of preventive dentistry, such as daily brushing and regular dental cleanings. These practices are designed to ensure that teeth are clean, strong, and white. Children should be taught proper oral hygiene at an early age.
The most important part of preventive dentistry is to brush teeth daily with fluoride toothpaste approved by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). Most people should replace their toothbrushes three to four times a year or as the bristles start to fray.
Daily flossing is also recommended. Flossing helps to clean out the tight spaces between the teeth. People with braces may need to use floss threaders to get between the metal brackets.
Regular dental cleanings and exams allow dentists to identify problems and take care of them right away.
People should see their dentists at least once a year for an exam to check for any problems in the teeth or gums.
Eating a balanced diet also helps to protect the teeth by providing them with the nutrients they need.
What Does Preventive Dentistry Do?
Preventive dentistry prevents people from developing dental problems later on. Cavities, gingivitis, enamel loss, and periodontitis can all be avoided or mitigated with proper dental care.
Who Benefits from Preventive Dentistry?
Everyone benefits from preventive dentistry. Children in particular benefit because it allows their newly developing adult teeth to come in strong and healthy. Aging adults benefit from preventive dentistry because it helps them to keep their real teeth.
Oral health is connected to body health as a whole. This is because the mouth is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Maintaining a clean mouth benefits overall health.
What Are the Benefits of Preventive Dentistry?
With good dental hygiene, patients greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, and other dental problems. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of secondary problems caused by poor oral health.
The dental exam
An examination by a dentist plays a key role in maintaining good oral health. Dentists are the doctor of the mouth. The health of the mouth is linked to the body. Your dentist is trained to identify early signs of disease in the mouth that could relate to other health issues such as diabetes. The dental exam also plays a significant role in the early detection of oral cancer.
Regular dental Exams
It is important to have regular examinations, even if you are not experiencing any pain. Many dental conditions will not show symptoms or cause pain in the early stages. By the time you are experiencing pain or swelling, the disease has already progressed. Through regular dental exams, your dentist can:
- Identify changes in your mouth
- Diagnose and address minor issues before they become larger problems
- Guide you on ways to prevent dental disease
Answer any questions and concerns you may have about your dental health
Treat any condition that may arise, or refer you to the necessary dental specialist
Catching small problems early can provide you with more treatment options and lead to better health outcomes.
Frequency of exams
The frequency of your dental exams will depend on your unique dental health care needs. It is recommended that you visit the dentist at least once per year. Your dentist may recommend that you attend more frequently based on your current oral and/or general health or other lifestyle factors.
Dental disease cannot be reversed but it can be prevented. The cost of a recall exam as a preventive health measure against dental disease is far less than treatment.
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- Oral cancer screening: Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation: Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
- Examination of tooth decay: All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
- Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
There are many important reasons why your dentist may recommend you have an X-ray, or an updated X-ray, taken as part of your examination.
X-rays help your dentist see all that is going on in your mouth. Things that can’t be seen with the naked eye, such as:
- Early stages of decay
- Infections in the bone
- Decay below the gum line
- Loss of bone due to gum disease or
- The formation of baby teeth in children, can be captured through an X-ray.
By catching these issues early your dentist can treat the problem and reduce the likelihood of you needing more complex and costly treatment later.
Frequency of X-rays
How often you get an X-ray depends on you. Each patient is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Your dentist will consider a number of factors such as your current oral and general health, age, risk for disease as well as any findings from your dental exam.
For children, further consideration will be given to their dental development. As a result more frequent X-rays may be recommended.
If you are pregnant, let your dentist know. X-rays can safely be taken during pregnancy and may be recommended to diagnose and treat a dental issue.
Dental X-rays produce a low level of radiation exposure, they are safe, and the benefits of having an X-ray to diagnose the early signs of disease must be considered.
Dental X-rays are taken on a case-by-case basis and every effort is taken to adhere to the ALARA principle – As Low As Reasonably Achievable – to minimize exposure for both patients and dental staff. Dentists and dental teams must adhere to strict regulations related to X-ray equipment and the delivery of X-rays.
All X-ray equipment in BC dental offices must undergo and pass regular mandatory inspections to ensure safe operation. Your dental office will provide you with a lead apron when taking the X-ray to minimize exposure.
Refusing an X-ray
Whether or not you proceed with an X-ray is your choice. However, if you refuse an X-ray ensure that you understand what this can mean for your dental health. Ask your dentist:
• Why is he or she recommending an X-ray?
• What are the risks of delaying/deferring the X-ray?
As a new patient to a dental office your dentist will recommend you have X-rays. However, if you had X-rays taken fairly recently at another office, you can ask to have copies transferred. Your consent is required to share any information and an administration charge may apply.
Sports related dental injuries ranging from tooth loss to lacerated gums to jaw fractures are common among children and adults and can have long-term consequences. Mouthguards protect against trauma to the teeth, gums, soft tissues and supporting bones.
Mouthguards are necessary in any sport where there might be a strong chance of contact with other participants or hard surfaces and are also a good idea for recreational activities such as skateboarding, in-line skating and cycling.
Types of Mouthguards
A dentist makes an impression of the patient’s mouth and then creates an exact-fitting mouthguard from a cast model of the teeth impression using vacuum- or pressure-formed thermoplastic material. As they are customized, these mouthguards provide the best fit, protection and comfort; they are also the most durable.
This mouthguard, generally made of thermoplastic material, must be warmed in very hot water to soften it, so the user can bite into it to create an impression. When moulded within the mouth (or “bitten”), the plastic takes on the shape of the wearer’s mouth; however, the fit is not as precise as that of custom-made mouthguards—and it may be somewhat bulkier. Boil-and-bites come in three sizes: small, medium and large, and are also sized by age.
Made of rubber or polyvinyl, these mouthguards are held in place by clenching teeth together. As a result, they offer the least amount of comfort, protection and durability, and are often bulky and loose
Caring for Mouthguards
Rinse a mouthguard under cold water after every use and air dry. Like anything else that goes into the mouth, a mouthguard will attract bacteria and should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
Occasionally clean it with an antiseptic mouthwash. You can also clean it with a toothbrush and toothpaste or cleaning tablets.
Store a mouthguard in a firm, perforated plastic container and away from extreme heat, as heat can distort it.
Check a mouthguard regularly for tears or holes (these can irritate the mouth and weaken the mouthguard). If you notice any, replace it immediately.
Fluoride and Your Child
Fluoride is a mineral found in soil, water (both fresh and salt) and various foods. It has a positive effect on oral health by making teeth more resistant to decay. Fluoride can also prevent or even reverse tooth decay that has started.
Fluorides are used by communities as a public health measure to adjust the concentration of fluoride in drinking water to an optimum level (community water fluoridation); by individuals in the form of toothpastes, rinses, lozenges, chewable tablets, drops; and by the dental profession in the professional application of gels, foams and varnishes.
The availability of fluorides from a variety of sources must be taken into account before embarking on a specific course of fluoride delivery. This is particularly important for children under the age of 6, where exposure to more fluoride than is required to simply prevent dental caries can cause dental fluorosis. Provided that the total daily intake of fluoride is carefully monitored, fluoride is considered to be a most important health measure in maintaining oral health.
Your dentist is able to assess your child’s risk of developing tooth decay and advise you of an appropriate level of fluoride protection.
Hygienist instructions How to Properly Brush & Floss
Proper brushing takes at least two minutes — that’s right, 120 seconds! Most adults do not come close to brushing that long. To get a feel for the time involved, try using a stopwatch. To properly brush your teeth, use short, gentle strokes, paying extra attention to the gumline, hard-to-reach back teeth and areas around fillings, crowns or other restoration. Concentrate on thoroughly cleaning each section as follows:
Clean the outer surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
Clean the inner surfaces of your upper teeth, then your lower teeth
Clean the chewing surfaces
For fresher breath, be sure to brush your tongue, too
What Type of Toothbrush Should I Use?
Most dental professionals agree that a soft-bristled brush is best for removing plaque and debris from your teeth. Small-headed brushes are also preferable, since they can better reach all areas of the mouth, including hard-to-reach back teeth. For many, a powered toothbrush is a good alternative. It can do a better job of cleaning teeth, particularly for those who have difficulty brushing or who have limited manual dexterity. To find the right Colgate toothbrush for you, click here.
How Important is the Toothpaste I Use?
It is important that you use a toothpaste that’s right for you. Today there is a wide variety of toothpaste designed for many conditions, including cavities, gingivitis, tartar, stained teeth and sensitivity. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist which toothpaste is right for you.
How Often Should I Replace My Toothbrush?
You should replace your toothbrush when it begins to show wear, or every three months, whichever comes first. It is also very important to change toothbrushes after you’ve had a cold, since the bristles can collect germs that can lead to reinfection.
Oral Hygiene Aids
Different dental hygiene aids are discussed, such as floss, tape, superfloss, gauze, flat shoelace, toothpick, interproximal brush, single-tufted brush, electric toothbrush, manual toothbrush and oral irrigation. Research shows that not one specific aid is superior to another if effectiveness is taken into consideration.
Toothbrushes that contain the ADA Seal of Approval are the only toothbrushes we recommend. Ultrasonic, electric toothbrushes are highly recommended because of their ability to break down plaque and bacteria so well. They are proven to be more effective at removing plaque than regular brushing. Toothbrushes with soft bristles are also recommended. They are still effective at removing plaque and buildup, but are gentle on the gums.
Dental floss is a great way for people to clean food debris and plaque from between the teeth and gums. It is recommended that people floss at least once per day, but twice is optimal to ensuring that plaque doesn’t harden on teeth. Twenty-four hours is sufficient time for plaque to harden into calculus (tartar), so it’s important to follow a daily routine of brushing at lease twice per day and flossing at least once.
Floss is made out of varying materials and comes in many different flavors. Be sure the ADA seal is on the floss you use. After trying a few different kinds of floss, you’ll most likely find your favorite.
Tongue cleaners remove yucky bacteria that is difficult to remove, even with a toothbrush. The bacteria that sits on the tongue is smelly and bad for your body, so it is important to remove it.
Interdental cleaners are tiny in-between-your-teeth brushes that do a great job of cleaning between all the various angles of your teeth and gums. These are recommended as a supplement to your schedule of brushing and flossing.
Cosmetic Mouth Rinses and Therapeutic Mouth Rinses are the two most widely swished mouth rinses that are available. Cosmetic Mouth Rinses are sold over the counter and generally don’t do much for a person in terms of fighting plaque, although some kill germs.
Rubber Tip Stimulators
A Rubber Tip Stimulator is an efficient tool for removing plaque that can collect near the gum line. This tool is gentle and comfortable and actually stimulates blood flow in the gums, which is good for your gums and teeth. We recommend using the Rubber Tip Stimulator once per day.
Oral Irrigators makes great use of water to clean around the teeth and gums. Water sprays in a jet stream that is soothing to the gums and can actually remove bacteria from pockets between the gums and teeth.
Thank you for visiting us to learn more about Oral Hygiene Aids. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 416 537 3171
Dental sealants are recognized as an effective approach to preventing pit and fissure caries in children.
Dental sealant is a thin, plastic coating painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth — usually the back teeth (the premolars and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.
Although thorough brushing and flossing can remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, they cannot always get into all the nooks and crannies of the back teeth to remove the food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas from tooth decay by “sealing out” plaque and food.
Who Should Get Sealants?
Because of the likelihood of developing decay in the depressions and grooves of the premolars and molars, children and teenagers are candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.
Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
In some cases, dental sealants may also be appropriate for baby teeth, such as when a child’s baby teeth have deep depressions and grooves. Because baby teeth play such an important role in holding the correct spacing for permanent teeth, it’s important to keep these teeth healthy so they are not lost too early.
How Are Sealants Applied?
Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:
First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.
Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.
The teeth are then rinsed and dried.
Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.
How Long Do Sealants Last?
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups. Your dentist can replace sealants as necessary.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Sealants?
Many insurance companies cover the cost of sealants. Check with your dental insurance carrier to determine if sealants are covered under your plan.