A preventive program is a cooperative effort by the patient, dentist, and dental staff to preserve the natural dentition and supporting structures by preventing the onset, progress, and recurrence of dental diseases and conditions.
The prevention of dental health issues starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet. It is continued in the dental office by the efforts of your dentist and dental hygienist to promote, restore, and maintain your oral health.
Prevention also includes regular dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays. Sealants and fluoride are also great preventive treatments that help protect the teeth.
Preventative measures such as regular dental visits and effective oral hygiene help you avoid serious and costly dental problems and are the key to having a healthy, confident, beautiful smile.
At your first visit a complete dental exam will be done by your dentist. At that time and at following regular check-up exams, your dentist and hygienist will work together to:
- Diagnostic x-rays (radiographs): to find decay, tumors, cysts, bone loss and tooth positions.
- Oral cancer screening: to check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Gum disease evaluation: to check your gums and bone around your teeth for any signs of periodontal (gum) disease.
- Examination of tooth surfaces: to check for decay with special dental instruments.
- Examination of existing restorations: to check your fillings, crowns, veneers etc.
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
- Decay between the teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. At our office we take necessary precautions to limit your exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. We use lead apron shields to protect your body and also modern, fast film that reduces exposure time.
Professional dental cleanings (scaling, root planing and polishing) are done by Registered Dental Hygienists. Your cleaning appointment will include a dental exam by the dentist and:
- Removal of calculus (tartar): Calculus is hardened plaque that has formed on the tooth and will be firmly attached. Calculus forms above and below the gum line, and can be removed with appropriate dental instruments.
- Removal of plaque: Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins that inflame the gums. This inflammation is the start of periodontal disease and can affect your general health!
- Teeth polishing: Removal of stains and plaque that cannot be removed during regular tooth brushing.
A beautiful, healthy smile that lasts a lifetime is our ultimate goal for you. Your personal home care plays an important role in achieving that goal. It starts at home by eating balanced meals, reducing the number of snacks you eat, and correctly using the various dental aids that help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease.
Tooth brushing – Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an CDA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.
- Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and gently brush using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
- Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
- Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside of your front teeth.
- Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.
Flossing – Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line.
Flossing cleans spaces, and prevents plaque colonies from building up.
Take 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) of floss between your hands.
- Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a gentle sawing motion.
- Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.
Rinsing – It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist or dental hygienist whether it’s right for you.
Other dental aids may be recommended by your dentist or dental hygienist:
- interdental brushes
- rubber tip stimulators
- tongue cleaners
- irrigation devices
- medicated rinses