There are many preventive dental treatments available. Preventive care help you avoid developing dental problems that damage your oral health and result in extensive or costly treatments to restore your teeth, gum, and smile to good health and full function.
Dental Cleanings & Exams
Visit your dentist regularly. Sticking to the recommended appointment schedule is extremely important in preventing the development of dental problems, and in managing existing problems, such as periodontal disease. Almost all oral diseases are asymptomatic in their early stages, meaning that they have few or no obvious symptoms. Examples of asymptomatic dental diseases include periodontitis, gingivitis, decay, and oral cancer.
When diagnosed in the earliest stages, all these diseases are easier and less expensive to treat. For example, a dental filling is much more cost effective than a root canal followed by a dental crown. Any non-surgical treatment will always be less expensive than a surgical treatment (gum surgery, dental implant placement, etc.).
Diet & Sugar Intake
Reduce the frequency of your sugar intake, and maintain a balanced, nutritious diet. The total amount of sugars consumed throughout the day is not as important for the teeth as the frequency with which you consume them. The mouth has a natural buffering capacity in the saliva to neutralize bacterial acids and minimize the decalcification of your tooth enamel. Frequent consumption of sugar neutralizes this ability.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, the molecules of which integrate into your tooth structure either systemically during dental development or topically once your teeth have erupted. Fluoride strengthens your teeth, making the enamel more resistant to bacteria and acid attacks. Fluoride is actually toxic to many bacteria, including those bacteria which contribute to tooth decay.
Fluoride is available in several forms. Topical fluoride, usually received via toothpaste and rinses, lowers the bacterial count in your mouth. Water-fluoridated communities have reduced tooth decay to historically low levels. You can also acquire fluoride tablets if recommended by your dentist.
It is recommended that you always use a toothpaste containing fluoride, and that anyone with an increased risk of decay should use a fluoride rinse. Fluoride rinses are most effective if used before bedtime.
Using a mouthwash twice daily will help reduce gingivitis when accompanied by proper brushing and flossing. Your dentist may prescribe chlorhexidine containing rinses. These types of mouthwashes are more effective, but are only available by prescription.
Protect Your Teeth
Protecting your teeth may including using a sports mouth guard. This is strongly recommended for anyone who participates in athletics or sports, individually or as a team. Many high-contact sports require the use of a sports mouth guard.
Do not ever use your teeth as a tool (e.g., to open something, etc.).
If your teeth show signs of grinding (bruxism), your dentist may also fit you with a custom night guard to minimize the damaging effects and prevent further damage.
Chewing sugarless gum has been known to reduce cavities. Chewing gum can sweeten your gums with xylitol, which reduces the activity of decay-causing bacteria. Chewing gum also stimulates the flow of saliva in your mouth, which buffers against and neutralizes the acids in your mouth and boosts the immunity of your mouth.
Smoking and other forms of tobacco use cause significant damage to your smile. While stained and yellowed teeth are the most obvious signs of cosmetic damage caused by using tobacco products, the hidden damage to your oral health is far more threatening. Periodontal disease in smokers progresses faster, responds poorly to treatment, and can be much more severe. Chewing tobacco is also problematic, increasing your risk of oral cancer and damage to your gums. Individuals who smoke are significantly more likely to develop oral cancer than those who do not.
Update Your Medical History
Many medical conditions can impact your oral health. Make sure your dentist is aware of all pre-existing conditions and medications you are currently taking, even if it does not seem important to you. This will make it easier for your dentist to provide you with preventive care and with effective dental treatments.