Preventive dentistry refers to the branch of modern dentistry that aims at providing treatments that prevent or limit the development of dental diseases like cavities, periodontitis, tooth loss, etc. It includes various procedures as well as daily practices such as teeth cleaning, daily brushing and flossing, etc.
Regular visits to the dentist once every few months are also a form of preventive dentistry. Preventive dentistry not only prevents dental ailments but also makes teeth stronger and healthier, both functionality and structurally. Healthy teeth can help chew food well and can also fight off diseases.
Brushing teeth regularly is the most common and easiest form of preventive dentistry. Everyone, regardless of age, is advised to brush their teeth twice a day with good toothpaste and then rinse the mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash. Flossing teeth after meals are also suggested for better oral health. Brushing teeth efficiently and regularly helps in removing any food particles that may be stuck between teeth. The toothbrush must be gentle and have fine bristles so they can reach confined spaces. Using antibacterial liquids and dental flosses also helps since a toothbrush alone cannot reach between all teeth efficiently.
Teeth cleaning procedures are mostly performed in the office under dental supervision. It begins with a physical examination of teeth. Later on, the plaque build-up and tartar accumulation are cleared during the dental cleaning procedure. Both these are scraped away from the surface of the teeth with the help of a scaler.
Tartar accumulation and bacterial build-up can only be cleared with the help of professional cleaning tools and under dental supervision. After scraping away all the accumulation, the teeth are cleansed with the help of an automatic toothbrush. Afterward, the teeth are flossed by the dentist. This kind of flossing is precise and takes time and hence is known as expert flossing. Then the teeth are thoroughly rinsed and the teeth become pearly white and neat.
Let us understand more about how preventive dentistry works.
Prevention of various diseases
When the patient fails to practice basic dental care, various dental ailments can develop due to poor oral health and cleanliness. Cavities are a major dental ailment. They are developed due to bacteria eating away the insides of the teeth, eventually making the tooth decay and causing tooth loss. Periodontitis or gum diseases also develop when there is a lack of dental hygiene. The gums become swollen and sore and sometimes bleed when gum disease develops. Gingivitis is also a gum disease developed due to a lack of oral healthcare; it is a milder version of periodontitis.
Advantages of preventive dentistry
The major advantage of preventive dentistry is that it is applicable across all age groups. Along with preventing the risk of dental diseases, it also prevents various diseases that can affect the rest of the body. A prime example is the reduced risk of heart attack and other heart diseases. A clean oral cavity also reduces the risk of other diseases like osteoporosis, diabetes, various respiratory diseases, and even fatal diseases like cancer. Also, since preventive dentistry can stop major diseases from developing, the patient ends up saving money from the treatments he doesn’t need to receive. Small expenses for treatments like teeth whitening, tooth removal, etc. can save the patient from other major financial shocks.
Effect on age
Preventive dentistry is beneficial in maintaining diseases and making teeth strong. In children, preventive dentistry is a very good practice and can prevent the risk of developing serious diseases. Toothpaste with fluoride content is suggested for children. During childhood, teeth are very prone to developing cavities and caries. The fluoride content of dental products helps develop the enamel of teeth, which essentially helps build up a strong set of teeth, capable of fighting germs and bacteria. Another dental tool, called a sealant, can prevent cavities and caries for a lifetime if the child properly takes care of the teeth.
In the elder population, preventive dentistry is equally effective and beneficial. If the patient is able to maintain oral health and good dental hygiene, the chances of other diseases, unrelated to dental ones, reduce greatly. Feeling good about oneself, heightened self-esteem, and a good appearance are some of the positive effects of practicing preventive dentistry at any given age.
Importance of fluoride
Fluoride plays a very crucial role in maintaining dental health. It is very absorbable into the teeth surface and strengthens teeth from the inside. The areas of the teeth which lack adequate minerals are remineralized due to the fluoride content in dental products. This chemical compound also helps in keeping teeth clean and resistant to bacteria.
Topical and systemic fluorides are the types of fluorides available. Topical fluorides help in strengthening teeth and making them more decay-proof. Topical fluorides are generally present in toothpaste, mouthwashes, and whitening strips and are also part of procedures performed at the dentist’s office. Special dental gels available for home use are provided by the dentist and have a high content of fluorine.
Systemic fluorides are another type of fluoride available. They’re supposed to be ingested by the patient to build teeth from the inside. Patients are suggested to use products enriched with fluoride minerals to make teeth strong and resistant.
Other beneficial compounds
Amorphous calcium phosphate, xylitol, etc. are some compounds other than fluoride that help in maintaining good oral health and helps in the prevention of diseases. Amorphous Calcium Phosphate or ACP helps in restoring calcium and phosphate minerals to the teeth’ enamel and surface. ACP is typically given to a patient after a dental cleaning procedure as it helps in restoring minerals back to the dentin that is stripped away from it due to harsh cleaning techniques. It also helps in preventing teeth hypersensitivity commonly observed after in-office dental treatments.
Xylitol is another compound extracted from birch trees and is commonly present in various products as an artificial sweetener. It is helpful in the prevention of cavities, caries, and tooth decay. Nowadays it can also be found in toothpaste, and mouthwash as well. The patient is encouraged to include products with these ingredients in their preventive dentistry practices to get healthier, stronger teeth.