Today’s dental mission should not be just reacting to and treating problems; instead the priority should be in prevention.
The key tools in preventing tooth problems are cleaning your teeth every day, your diet, fluoride and dental sealants. Regular dental cleanings bring everything together.
Q: What can I do to prevent tooth and gum disease?
A: Everyone has bacteria in their mouth; these bacteria form a plaque on teeth (sticky bacterial deposits). To prevent tooth and gum destruction you must remove this acidic bacterial biofilm.
This is done by daily brushing and flossing. Brush at least twice a day. Floss once a day. The use of an anti-cavity fluoride toothpaste and treatment gels aid in limiting the acid effect on tooth enamel.
Regular dental examinations and professional cleanings remove plaque and calculus (mineralized plaque), administer fluoride varnish treatments and allow for caries to be treated early with fillings and treat early gum disease.
The key to home prevention is to ingest less sugar and increase your time brushing and flossing.
Q: How does fluoride prevent decay?
A: Fluoride works s in many ways to prevent tooth decay. You drink tap water that is fluoridated. You brush with fluoridated toothpaste. Over the counter daily rinses for home are available. Twice yearly treatments in the dental office are the most effective use.
Fluoride works when swallowed or when applied to the surface of the tooth. The effect is to make stronger tooth enamel when the teeth are forming to resist decay and to remineralize and reverse early decayed areas of teeth already in the mouth.
New technology has developed new prescription level fluoride products with added ingredients for home and dental office use.
One is a transparent flavored crème varnish to apply to teeth to strengthen enamel, buffer the acidity in your saliva and invade the biofilm of bacteria. This topical cream has prescription strength fluoride with a calcium and phosphate buffering formula. The other is a dentifrice (toothpaste gel) with increased fluoride and other added ingredients. Three different formulas are there to treat sensitive teeth, a detergent free formula for dry mouth syndrome sufferers and the original.
Both products need a prescription to be filled, because of the added fluoride content.
These products add protective minerals to strengthen your teeth and fight acid breakdown and minimize tooth sensitivity.
Q: What is a dental sealant?
A: A sealant is a plastic material that is bonded into the chewing surfaces of teeth
These plastic protective coverings can be applied to the biting surfaces of back teeth; these seal the grooves where almost 90% of decay occurs, preventing decay from occurring when in place. Sealants need to be placed before decay occurs (around six and twelve years of age when the permanent molars erupt into the mouth). As long as the bonding stays in place, the sealant works.
Q: What happens at regular dental visits?
A: You have an examination of your teeth and mouth. A periodontal (gums) evaluation is done. Your oral hygiene home care is evaluated. You get your teeth professionally cleaned and polished (removes plaque, tartar and stains). X-rays are taken if needed. Teeth are treated with Fluoride compounds. Oral hygiene techniques (brushing, flossing, and the use of other inter-dental cleaners) are reviewed. This is your chance to address questions and concerns.
Dental diseases are not completely preventable. Without a cure, utilize the modern dental technologies for maximum prevention and limit destruction with early treatment.