Preventive dentistry is one of the most important areas of modern dentistry. It encompasses aspects of home care, dietary awareness as well as professional dental maintenance and treatments which are geared towards minimum intervention and maximum protection.
Brushing twice a day and flossing at night are the cornerstones of preventive dental maintenance. Interproximal brushes look like tiny bottle brushes and are used to clean between the teeth if flossing is too difficult. The aim of home care is to remove harmful bacterial plaque which cause gum disease and tooth decay. With this in mind, mouthwashes are of little use other than as breath fresheners since they fail to remove plaque from teeth in any way.
The main dietary concerns regarding dental health are sugar and acids. Sugar is used by plaque bacteria to produce acid which eats into tooth mineral and causes a cavity. Once this has occurred there is no option but to remove the decayed tooth material and restore the tooth with a filling for example. The solution is simple: Minimise sugar and acidic food frequency and drink water or chew sugar-free gum where possible after anything sweet, including fruit, to lessen the acid effect. Fizzy drinks and sports drinks are the worst dietary offenders since they are both very high in sugar and are very acidic.
Visiting the dentist every 6 months is important on many fronts. Firstly, a professional cleaning removes bacteria that has been missed during home care to reduce the progression of gum disease and tooth decay. Secondly, thorough dental check-ups and occasional x-rays allow for the early detection of problems, resulting in minimal treatment needs. Thirdly, any problems with home care and diet can be ascertained and tailored advice can be given to prevent further problems.
Fluoride is now well documented as a means of strengthening tooth enamel to make it more resistant to the acid attack the causes tooth decay. It is in the water and it can be applied by your dentist or hygienist after your teeth are cleaned. Fissure sealants are a wonderful preventive treatment to block out the deep pits and fissures in molar teeth, which are a high risk tooth decay area because they are impossible to clean. They are cost effective, simple and highly effective.