Preventative dentistry is arguably the most important type of dentistry. It encompasses everything you do to prevent oral health problems from developing. As such, this reduces the need for further procedures – like restorative dentistry.
Preventative dentistry takes on many forms, most of which depend on the patient. To prevent oral health concerns, you must follow excellent oral hygiene protocols.
Alongside this, a key aspect of preventative dentistry is regularly visiting your dentist. Continuous checkups are essential as your dentist will help with a variety of things in your mouth.
Benefits of Regular Dental Visits
Incredibly, over one hundred million people in the US don’t see their dentist at least once a year. This is a shocking statistic, which goes a long way to explaining the alarmingly high rates of tooth decay in children and adults.
According to the ADA, there is no set-in-stone rule for visiting your dentist. It is recommended that you do so regularly and a bi-annual visit is best. During your appointment, your dentist will tell you how often you need to return. Generally, a healthy mouth should have 6 months between visits.
Why do regular visits matter? Well, it can be highly beneficial for patients. Specifically, it helps spot the warning signs of things like:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- TMJ problems
- Orthodontic issues
- Tooth growth problems in children
- Various forms of cancer in the mouth and neck
If you don’t see your dentist at least once a year, any of these problems can manifest themselves. By the time you notice any signs or symptoms, it could be too late. You may need extensive restorative treatment, or possibly dental surgery.
What’s more, dental problems often have a domino effect. For instance, tooth decay can lead to many other issues. The decay can go deep enough to cause nerve damage, meaning a root canal is needed. In addition, decay in the mouth can cause gum disease. This leads to receding gums, putting your teeth at risk of falling out.
Things can spiral out of control very quickly, which is why it’s essential to visit your dentist. They will spot things before they start to manifest as problems. With their directions and advice, you can prevent many oral health issues from arising.
How Quickly Can Problems Arise Between Visits?
It takes about 6 to 12 months for things like cavities to form. A cavity can start forming after a few months, but it usually takes a year before it requires treatment. This is one of the main reasons you need bi-annual visits. If you seem at high-risk of cavities, your dentist may schedule you even sooner.
How will you know if you’re in the high-risk bracket? Well, that’s why you need to see the dentist! Not only will they suggest regular checkups, but they’ll also provide preventative treatments. This can include:
- Deep teeth cleaning
- Application of fluoride varnish
- Temporary fillings to prevent decay
- Oral hygiene instructions
Other Forms of Preventative Treatments
Preventative dentistry will often call upon other areas of dentistry to help patients. For instance, restorative dentistry can be considered a way of preventing problems. Dentists can apply fillings to a tooth, preventing it from needing a crown. Similarly, crowns or fillings can remove decay and stop a tooth from requiring a root canal.
Furthermore, there are treatments involving things like mouth guards. During your checkups, a dentist can spot signs of teeth grinding. If this carries on, it can cause TMJ disorders and permanent damage to your teeth. Therefore, the use of custom mouthguards can prevent these issues from developing.
You see, dentists can call upon many different techniques and treatments to prevent issues from spiraling out of control. Ultimately, preventative dentistry isn’t just about stopping oral health problems from arising. It’s about stopping existing issues from getting worse.
What Can You Do to Prevent Oral Health Concerns?
Aside from regularly visiting your dentist, how can you look after your oral health? It’s simply a case of following an oral hygiene routine and making a few lifestyle/dietary changes.
A good oral hygiene routine will look like this:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes – one time should be before bed, with the other at any other point in the day, but preferably in the morning.
- Floss regularly – the ADA recommends you do this once a day to remove any plaque and bacteria between the teeth. Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste removes a lot of this, but you can’t get between hard-to-reach areas.
- Avoiding consuming large quantities of sugary or acidic foods as they cause tooth decay.
- Don’t rinse your mouth with water after brushing as it washes away the toothpaste and leaves your teeth more exposed.
- Eat a balanced diet – this ensures you get all the vitamins and nutrients needed for a healthy mouth.
Additionally, avoid grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. While this won’t prevent things like decay or gum disease, it can stop other issues. This includes chipped or cracked teeth and TMJ disorders.
Book a Dental Checkup Today
When was the last time you saw a dentist? If it’s been over 6 months, you should schedule a checkup today. As mentioned, regular dental visits are essential for preventing many oral health concerns. We will assess your oral health and make recommendations on future appointments, along with preventative measures to follow.