Preventative Dentistry

‘Teeth for life’ is a now achievable for almost everyone. Some of the most important advances in Dentistry of the last 20 years are our far improved ability to detect and prevent dental disease before it ravages your teeth and gums.

Preventative Dentistry is a term that describes the modern concepts in dentistry that aims to prevent the damaging effects of tooth decay and gum disease. The most exciting fact is that these dental diseases are completely preventable in most people is well documented.

The concept of Preventative Care is that we Dental professionals can help our patients achieve the goal of ideal oral health by helping them develop a daily regime of home care that is effective, efficient, and will fit in with their life style.

Detailed dental examinations can reveal early tooth decay or gum disease, long before conventional drilling and filling is required. Our response to these early findings is to identify the problem and help our patients move back onto the path of dental health. Often simple adjustments to the diet and cleaning technique can tip the balance in favour of continuing oral health. Most early decay lesions can be reversed, preventing the need for fillings. In most people, gum disease is preventable.

If a tooth has become damaged through tooth decay it is of course possible to repair it with a filling, inlay or crown. This reconstructive dentistry is also subject to the principles of preventative care. The repairs must be made to fit accurately and be entirely cleansable by the patient using their routine daily cleaning regime. We recognise that it is our fanatical attention to the fine detail of the repair that allows the patient to make it last for a long time.

Preventive measures can do wonders for your dental health. A few simple homecare practises, paired with regular visits to your dental professional will go a long way toward maintaining optimal oral health.

 

GUM DISEASE

Daily preventive procedures share the common goal of removing bacteria from the mouth. If allowed to build-up, bacteria adheres to the teeth, tongue and soft tissue which becomes plaque, that over time can mineralise into a hard substance called calculus. Only professional cleanings can remove calculus.

Inadequate plaque control is the primary cause of gingivitis (inflamed gums), periodontitis (bacteria gum disease), and oral malodor (bad breath). Patients can minimise bacterial accumulation through regular brushing, flossing, and tongue scraping, and periodic dental hygiene appointments (dental prophylaxis).

The Hygiene Appointment

Professional cleaning and assessment enable dental professionals to remain abreast of your oral health status and they can provide guidance on steps to take to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Regular preventive dental visits allow problems to be identified early while they can be fixed easily and painlessly. Usually the intervals for your hygiene visits are determined by your susceptibility to dental disease, and the aims of the treatment.

Excellent home care is the corner stone of treatment of gum disease. As well as brushing, floss or the use of interdental brushes is a must for any patient who shows signs of gum disease.

 

DECAY

To reduce the incidence of cavities, use toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride. Fluoride is a compound that is added to most tap water supplies, toothpastes, and mouth rinses to reduce cavities. Fluoride becomes incorporated into our teeth as they develop and makes them more resistant to decay, and will reverse early decay making corrective dental treatment unnecessary. If you are at risk of decay, try using a  mouthwash containing fluoride at lunch time (if you don’t clean your teeth at this time).

Preventative

Flouride mouthrinses available from your dentist

Other products that have been shown to reverse decay and toughen teeth are GC Tooth Mousse and Recaldent chewing gum. These contain Recaldent® CPP-ACP (Caesin Phosphopeptide – Amorphous Calcium Phosphate), a natural product extracted from milk that protects teeth.

Preventative

Obviously, diet plays a big role in decay prevention. It is important to be sensible with your diet. Be aware of ‘natural’ sugars such as ones found in fruit and juices, they will still cause decay. It is the frequency rather than the amount of sugars and sugar containing foods that cause problems, rather than the amount. People who ‘graze’ through out the day are at a far higher risk of getting decay.


EROSION

Acids in the mouth can dissolve away tooth surfaces. Given the chance, teeth will repair themselves, using minerals from saliva. But if acid is in the mouth too often, teeth cannot repair themselves and the tooth surface (the enamel and dentine) becomes thinner – this is called tooth erosion.

Dental erosion is increasingly common and can have long-term consequences for the general and dental health of affected individuals. It is estimated that up to 30% of 11 year olds show signs of erosion.

Tooth erosion is caused by acidic foods and drinks dissolving away the surface of the tooth. It is becoming increasingly more common, especially due to greater consumption of fruit juice, sports and fizzy drinks – including diet brands.

While most people would be aware that sugary foods can cause tooth decay, research into tooth erosion has shown that even some common healthy foods with a high acidic content can erode teeth. Most fruits and fruit drinks have high erosive potential. Sports drinks are especially erosive.

Erosion also can be caused by gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux, in which stomach acids come up into the oesophagus and mouth. Excessive vomiting that occurs with the eating disorder bulimia can also cause tooth erosion. Even the chlorine and other chemicals in a swimming pool can cause erosion over time.

Your dentist can examine your teeth to see if you have tooth abrasion or erosion. A diagnosis is often made after someone experiences sensitivity to temperature or sweet foods.

Try to avoid consuming acidic food and/or drink too often during the day. Try to have them only at mealtimes. Drink acidic drinks quickly – don’t sip them. And don’t swish them round your mouth, and rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Use fluorides, and GC Tooth Mousse to protect your teeth (see Decay prevention above).

If you are concerned about erosion, talk to your dentist about ways of maintaining a healthy diet, but protecting your teeth at the same time.