What is Preventive Dentistry?
When the dentist, hygienist and patient work together, this can help to prevent the need for treatment and avoid the traditional pattern of fillings and extractions.
Can everybody benefit from Preventive Dentistry?
Yes. Preventive dentistry will benefit anyone with some of their own teeth. People who don’t have any teeth can also benefit, because conditions such as mouth cancer and denture stomatitis can be spotted during regular visits to the dentist and then treated. It is beneficial for children and young people too.
What is involved?
Your dentist will first check your teeth and gums, and talk to you about any treatment you need. The main aim is to help you get your mouth really healthy.
The hygienist or dentist will thoroughly ‘scale and polish’ your teeth.
You will be shown the best ways to brush and clean in between your teeth using interdental brushes or floss to remove the bacterial ‘plaque’, which forms constantly on your teeth. When you eat or drink something sugary, the bacteria in the plaque turn the sugar into acid, which may cause tooth decay. Plaque can also cause gum inflammation (swelling and soreness) if it is not regularly and thoroughly removed. The hard tartar (or ‘calculus’) which builds up on the teeth also starts off as plaque.
Your dentist and hygienist will also talk to you about your diet, and any habits such as smoking and drinking.
Will my dentist recommend treatment?
A ‘preventive dentist’ will often recommend treatment to strengthen a tooth to make sure it does not break. Eg.If the dentist sees a tooth that is cracked, or is weak and in danger of breaking, they may advise a new filling or perhaps a crown or ‘onlay’ to protect it.This is always better than waiting until the tooth breaks, and then dealing with it as an emergency.
What else can the dentist and hygienist do to help prevent tooth decay?
Fluoride helps teeth resist decay. If your dentist thinks extra fluoride would be useful, they may recommend applying a fluoride varnish. They may also suggest fluoride mouth rinses.
What is dental erosion?
Dental erosion is the loss of enamel caused by acid attack. When the enamel is worn away it can lead to pain and sensitivity. Foods and drinks that contain acid, such as citrus fruits, fizzy drinks, smoothies, fruit juices and fruit teas, can all cause dental erosion if you have them often.
Can I prevent dental erosion?
Try to keep acidic food and drinks to meal times and drink acidic drinks through a straw.
Chew sugar-free gum-it makes your mouth produce more saliva and stops your mouth drying out, and can help to prevent dental decay and erosion.
Visit your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.
Mouthwashes can help. Be advised by your dentist or hygienist.