Prevention

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You've no doubt heard it said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In dentistry, you might say it's worth two pounds. Maybe even thousands of dollars. That's because dental problems can become exponentially more expensive — and painful — the longer they go unaddressed. Fortunately, modern dentistry has many easy and relatively inexpensive ways to make sure that today's minor annoyance does not turn into tomorrow's major headache.

Preventive dentistry describes all the procedures used to arrest tooth decay and other diseases in the earliest stages. The goal is to keep you as healthy as possible and maintain your natural teeth for life.

Preventive Dentistry Procedures

Preventive dentistry procedures range from the most basic services that have been used successfully for decades, to recent technological innovations. These procedures include:

  • Cleanings. This is where dental health starts. There's just no substitute for physically removing disease-causing dental plaque and calculus (tartar) from your teeth — especially in hard-to-reach areas near the gum line. That's why regular professional cleanings are so important to your health.
  • Dental sealants video Dental Sealants. These invisible plastic coatings fill the tiny grooves in back teeth so they do not become havens for bacteria. They prevent cavities from forming and the need for fillings later on.
  • Fluoride. This mineral is readily incorporated into the teeth's mineral structure, thereby making them stronger and more decay-resistant. Fluoride can even reverse tiny cavities that are starting to form. If you are not getting enough from your toothpaste and drinking water, it can be applied directly to your teeth at the dental office.
  • Mouthguards. Athletic mouthguards are designed to absorb and distribute the forces of impact and minimize traumatic injury to both the hard and soft tissues of the mouth. In fact, an athlete is 60 times more likely to suffer harm to teeth when not wearing a mouthguard. The best ones are custom-made for you by your dentist.
  • Oral Cancer video Oral Cancer Screenings. Your best chance of surviving oral cancer — a disease that affects not only lifelong smokers but also young non-smokers — is early detection and treatment. Oral cancer screenings are a routine part of every regular dental exam.
  • Salivary Diagnostics. This is an exciting new development in the field of preventive dentistry. While it is in its infancy, it is already possible to detect the presence of certain diseases with a salvia test, and the technology is developing rapidly.
  • X-Rays. For around a century, dentists have been using x-rays to reveal signs of disease not visible to the naked eye. Now, with CAT scans, they have become three-dimensional and are an indispensable tool to diagnose tooth decay, gum disease, bone density, bone volume and tumors.
  • Laser Bacterial Reduction.  Gum and bone disease affects approximately 80% of adults and is a growing epidemic in our society.  Understanding of this disease has increased greatly over the last few years. Periodontal Disease is a bacterial infection in the pockets around teeth. We now not only treat periodontal disease by removal of mechanical irritants and diseased tissue (your normal cleaning or a deep cleaning) but are also addressing the underlying infection that causes it. With that thought in mind, we recommend that all of our patients have their teeth decontaminated prior to cleaning appointments for three major reasons.

    1. To reduce or eliminate potential infections.  During the normal cleaning process most patients will have some areas that may bleed, this allows bacteria that are present in all of our mouths to flood into the bloodstream and sometimes settle in weakened areas of our body such as a damaged heart valves or artificial knee or hip etc.  We pre-medicate those patients that we know have a heart condition or artificial joints with antibiotics so that these bacteria can’t cause harm.  Research shows that these oral pathogens have now been linked to a number of other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, low birth weight babies, diabetes, etc.  Needless to say, anything that we can do to reduce or eliminate these potential infections is in our patients’ best interest.

    2. To prevent cross-contamination of infections in one area of your mouth to other areas. Decontamination minimizes the chance that we may pick up bacterial infection in one area of your mouth and move it to another.

    3. To kill periodontal disease bacteria and stop infection before they cause physical destruction of gum and bone around your teeth.  

    The laser decontamination process is painless and normally takes about 10 minutes.  We highly recommend that you take advantage of this service as part of your routine cleaning.  
  • Periodontal Disease and Scaling & Root Planing.  
    Periodontal Disease
    Your teeth are supported by gum tissue (or gingiva), connective fibers called the periodontal ligament that anchor the tooth root into its socket and into its bone.  Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth.  Your gum tissue is not attached to the teeth as high as it may seem – there is a very shallow v-shaped crevice called a sulcus between the tooth and gums.  
    Periodontal diseases attack just below the gum line in the sulcus, where they cause the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues to break down. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket; generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the depth of the pocket.
    Scaling & Root Planing
    Periodontal disease treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed.  The first step usually is a thorough cleaning that includes scaling to remove plaque and tartar deposits.  The tooth roots also may be planed to smooth the root surface, allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth.  In some cases, the occlusions, or bite, may require adjustment.
     

Your Role in Preventing Dental Disease

There's one more extremely important component of preventive dentistry: you. The procedures mentioned above can only be effective if you come in to the dental office to take advantage of them. Likewise, the importance of maintaining a good oral hygiene routine at home cannot be overstated. Daily effective brushing and flossing will go a long way toward removing the dental plaque responsible for dental disease, tooth loss, and the need for more complex dental treatment.

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