Do you only go to the dentist when you’ve got a toothache or another obvious problem?
Did you know that this could be costing you a lot of money and time?
When it comes to your dental care, the more proactive you are, the better off you’ll be.
Read on to learn all about preventive dentistry and how it can help you.
What is Preventive Dentistry?
Preventive dentistry is all about taking care of your teeth now to avoid serious problems later. A variety of treatments fall under the umbrella of preventive care, such as cleanings, x-rays, and fluoride treatments.
These treatments can do a lot for you and your family, including:
1. Prevent Cavities
One of the best benefits of preventive dentistry is the fact that regular visits to the dentist can help prevent the formation of cavities.
No matter how good you are about brushing and flossing, it’s still hard for you to reach every nook and cranny of your mouth.
Having your teeth professionally cleaned will eliminate plaque and tartar buildup and help you avoid painful cavities.
Dentists can also apply dental sealants and fluoride treatments to the teeth to further protect them from cavities.
2. Prevent Gum Disease
When you let plaque and tartar build up on your teeth and gums, you increase your risk of developing gum diseases like gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (more severe inflammation that can destroy the jaw bones).
The sooner your dentist catches signs of gum disease, the more they can do to eliminate the irritation and keep your gums as healthy as possible.
Preventive steps like fluoride treatments also help you avoid gum disease by combating erosion and making it easier to fight off disease-causing bacteria in the mouth.
3. Eliminate Bad Breath
Bad breath isn’t just unpleasant. It can also be a sign of decay or an infection.
If you’re struggling with bad breath, regular dental cleanings and other preventive treatments can help you get to the bottom of the issue and solve it.
4. Catch Jaw Problems Early
A lot of people don’t even realize that they have bruxism (teeth grinding) or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. When left unchecked, these problems can cause other issues like jaw misalignment and severe tension headaches.
Your dentist will know the early signs of these disorders and can make you special appliances that will prevent them from getting worse.
5. Avoid Serious Health Problems
A number of serious health conditions actually start in the mouth.
Tooth decay and poor oral hygiene can cause inflammation throughout the body, which puts you at risk for all kinds of diseases. This happens because poor dental health practices make it easier for bacteria to get into your bloodstream.
Some diseases that have been linked to poor oral health include:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disease
In pregnant women, poor oral hygiene can also lead to premature birth and low birth weight.
6. Save Money
Visiting the dentist more often for preventive treatment can actually save you money in the long run. If you have dental insurance, cleanings are usually covered, so you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket when you go in.
Even if you don’t have insurance, though, it’s cheaper to pay for cleanings twice a year than it is to pay for the fillings, root canals, or implants you may need if you go years without seeing the dentist.
7. Get Gentler Treatment
If you hate going to the dentist because you find the whole cleaning process uncomfortable, keep in mind that it’ll only get worse the longer you go without a treatment.
When you go to the dentist every six months, it takes a lot less effort for the dental hygienist to scrape plaque and tartar off your teeth than it does if you go after several years.
8. Prevent Injuries
If your child plays sports, your dentist can make a mouth guard to keep their teeth safe during their favorite activities. It’ll be a lot easier and cheaper to protect their teeth than it will be to try and have them repaired after a bad tackle.
9. Save Time
This is a big one for people who loathe going to the dentist. Would you rather spend a few minutes having your teeth cleaned or a few hours having cavities filled or a root canal performed?
If you visit the dentist more frequently for cleanings and other preventive treatments, you’ll spend less time in the chair overall than you would if you waited until a toothache or other issue showed up.
10. Improve Your Smile’s Appearance
In addition to being essential for your overall health, preventive dentistry is also necessary for maintaining a bright, attractive smile.
Having your teeth cleaned regularly will get rid of stays and keep discoloration at bay. Even if you don’t invest in professional whitening treatments, your teeth will still look better after a thorough cleaning.
Preventive Dentistry at Home
In addition to visiting the dentist every six months for cleanings, there are lots of steps you can take at home to prevent dental problems.
Keep these tips in mind to improve your oral health and make your visits to the dentist more efficient.
Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
Brushing your teeth twice a day is probably the best form of preventive dentistry you can practice at home.
Make sure you’re brushing your teeth and tongue morning and night with a fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush that has the American Dental Association’s seal of approval.
Don’t forget to replace your toothbrush every three or for months, too. This will ensure that it removes plaque as effectively as possible.
Floss Every Day
Flossing at least once a day is another good preventive step. Make sure you’re getting the floss in between all your teeth, including the ones in the very back — these are often the most susceptible to cavities.
If you have braces or permanent retainers, make sure you’re using a floss threader to help you clean between all the wires and brackets.
Eat a Balanced Diet
You can also help your teeth stay clean and healthy by making sure you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Some foods and beverages to avoid include:
- Simple carbohydrates like crackers and bread
Make sure you’re also drinking plenty of water, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and getting a sufficient amount of calcium. This will help you ensure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Schedule an Appointment Today
If you live in or around Birmingham and are looking for affordable, professional preventive dentistry services, contact us at Doug Lewis Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.
Feeling anxious about sitting in the dentist’s chair? Take a virtual tour of our office to help calm your nerves!