The good news is that dental disease is preventable.
Oral health is connected to the body health as a whole. This is because the mouth is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Maintaining a clean mouth benefits overall health.
Preventive dentistry helps prevent dental problems developing. Enamel wear and tooth loss, gingivitis and periodontitis can be avoided or mitigated with proper dental care.
You can practice preventive dentistry yourself by adopting these methods:
- Always brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes;
- Floss and/or use interdental brushes daily;
- Eat a balanced diet restricting acidic, sugary and starchy snacks;
- Regular 6-12 monthly dental checks including hygiene visits. The foundation of preventive dentistry is based on routine care and management of risk factors go a long way to minimise future dental problems. As they say, prevention is the best medicine!
Types of Preventive Dentistry
Regular dental examinations – at a regular examination, the dentist will identify signs of dental disease such as tooth decay and gum disease. Risk factors such as dry mouth and signs of oral cancer are also checked. Waiting until something hurts is not recommended. We strongly advise identifying problems before they progress to the point of pain and infection.
Dental X-Rays (Intraoral and Extraoral)
- Show areas of decay that may not be visible with an examination, especially small early areas of decay between teeth or beneath existing fillings.
- Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease.
- Reveal changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection.
- Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, orthodontic braces, dentures or other dental procedures.
- Reveal an abscess (an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth).
- Reveal other developmental abnormalities such as cysts and some types of tumors.
- Determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth and check for the development and position of wisdom teeth.
Professional Scale and Clean of Teeth by the dentist or hygienist every 6 months will remove the disease-causing bacteria.
Fluoride Application – to strengthen enamel (the outer layer of the teeth). Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making the more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth. It also reverses early decay.
Fissure Sealants – are placed in the dental surgery to seal the vulnerable deep grooves on a tooth biting surface from plaque bacteria accumulation. The grooves are sealed with a clear or tooth-coloured resin some of which contain fluoride. The fluoride slowly releases into the underlying enamel providing further protection from tooth decay.
Wear a mouthguard during active contact sports. Protect your mouth at all times by wearing a custom-made mouthguard. Any sport where contact with equipment, collision with other players or falling is possible (even accidentally) carries a risk of dental injury. A good mouthguard acts as shock absorber protecting the teeth from an impact.
Custom mouthguards are made from exact and precise models of an individual's own teeth are made of resilient and tear resistant materials ensuring a proper fit; are comfortable, easy to clean and do not restrict breathing. A properly fitted pressure laminated mouthguard must be protective, comfortable, resilient, tear resistant, odourless, tasteless, not bulky and have excellent retention fit and sufficient thickness in critical areas. Even the very best over-the-counter mouthguard product cannot insure quality and effectiveness.
Wear a nightguard to protect your teeth at night. Many people clench or grind their teeth to the point of destructiveness. Most people are completely unaware that they did it, because often they do it while they sleep. Bruxism is the medical term for forceful clenching and/or grinding of your teeth. It is considered a major cause of tooth problems. The action of grinding – where your upper and lower teeth move back and forth with great force against each other – causes your teeth to flatten. Allowed to persist, grinding causes temperature sensitivity and pain because the wear exposes the sensitive layer of your tooth, cracks in the teeth, receding gums and eventually lost teeth. A nightguard can be an extremely worthwhile investment in the long-term. It is designed by the dentist to fit your teeth exactly.
Some risk factors that may lead to dental disease or tooth damage
- Oropharyngeal Cancer – regular dental visits can improve the chances that any suspicious changes in your oral health will be caught early, at a time when cancer can be treated more easily.
- Dry Mouth – a condition which can lead to the development of cavities. It can be caused by medications (such as methamphetamines, antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines, oral inhalers for asthma and others) or disease states (such as Sjogren's syndrome, damaged salivary glands, radiation treatment to head and neck).
- Smoking – increases the risk of periodontal disease and bone loss around teeth.
- Eating Disorders – arise from a variety of complex physical, emotional and social issues. They can also be devastating to your oral health. Without proper nutrition, gums and other soft tissue inside the mouth may bleed easily. The glands that produce saliva may swell and individuals may experience chronic dry mouth. Strong stomach acid from repeated vomiting flows over teeth causing erosion of the tooth's outer protective enamel layer. The teeth become brittle and sensitive.
- Mouth Jewellery – oral piercings or tongue splitting may look cool, but they can be dangerous to your health. That's because your mouth contains millions of bacteria and infection and swelling often occur with mouth piercings. For instance, your mouth and tongue could swell so much that you close your airway or you could possible choke if parts of the jewellery breaks off in your mouth. Chipping and cracking of your tooth can occur if you bite down too hard on the piercing and repeated clicking of the jewellery against teeth can also cause damage. An infected oral piercing can also lead to more serious systemic infections including hepatitis or endocarditis.