How Preventative Dentistry Saves You Time, Pain & Money
What is preventative dentistry and why is it important?
How often do you go to the dentist?
Do you attend bi-annual appointments like clockwork, or do you wait until dental problems arise before seeking out treatment?
If it’s the latter, then you are far from alone.
According to the American Dental Association, an estimated 1 in 5 adults have untreated tooth decay. Furthermore, 1 in 2 adults has gum disease.
Even more shockingly, in 2019, 53% of Americans lived in areas that have a dental health professional shortage, making it less likely that they will receive dental care.
That being said, the importance of preventative dentistry cannot be ignored, with an increasing number of dentists across the country preaching the virtues of preventative oral health.
So, what exactly is preventative dentistry and why is it so important for good oral health and your overall health and wellbeing?
Let’s take a closer look.
What is preventative dental care?
Preventative dentistry is a key aspect of dental health and helps to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy. In a nutshell, preventative dentistry is designed to help reduce the need for future dental health treatment.
The two most common causes of tooth loss are gum disease and tooth decay, both of which can be prevented with the right oral health regime and lifestyle.
By visiting your dentist regularly, not just when you have a problem, you can work together to help prevent tooth decay, the need for root canals, and more serious issues such as oral cancer.
What are the benefits of preventative dental care?
There are multiple benefits to preventative dentistry, including reducing your risk of:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Receding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth loss
- Abnormal tooth wear
- Serious health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
- Oral cancers
What can I expect at a routine dental visit?
When you make an appointment at your dentist for a routine checkup or to discuss preventative dental care techniques, you can expect your dentist to check your teeth and gums and discuss any treatment you need.
The main aim of a routine appointment is to ensure your mouth is as healthy as it can be, as a healthy mouth is much less likely to experience tooth decay or gum disease.
During your checkup, you can expect the following:
- Dental cleanings. Your dentist will remove all plaque and tartar from your teeth. This is often referred to as a “scale and polish.” You might also undergo fluoride treatments or have dental sealants fitted to prevent the risk of developing cavities.
- Brushing techniques. Your dentist will talk you through the best ways to brush your teeth, as well as how to floss effectively.
- Oral healthcare products. Your dentist should tell you which toothpastes, brushes, and mouthwashes you should be using for optimal results.
- Lifestyle and diet. Your dentist will also talk to you about your lifestyle and how this may be affecting your dental health. They will ask if you smoke, drink alcohol, and what your diet is like.
- Overall check. Your dentist will check that any filings you already have are in good condition and that no further treatment is needed.
Is everyone suitable for preventative dental care?
Yes, preventative dentistry is suitable for people of all ages, including kids. In fact, the earlier you can bring your child to the dentist, the better, as it is crucial that they learn about the importance of good oral health from a young age.
While you may think that only people with teeth need to visit the dentist, even those without can benefit from a check-up. Dentists also check for health issues such as mouth cancer and denture stomatitis.
Does preventative dental care include dental treatments?
A preventative dentist may make recommendations for dental treatments if they notice an issue that could prove problematic in the future. For example, if a tooth is weak or chipped, they may recommend a new filling or a crown to help protect it.
This is much better for your dental health than waiting until a tooth breaks or falls out completely and will save you money, time, and of course, pain.
Is preventative dental care included in my insurance?
If you have dental insurance, it is important to look into exactly what your plan covers. Insurance plans for dental care can vary greatly, so you need to know the terms and conditions of yours before you book any treatment.
Some insurance plans will cover 100% of preventative dental services, while others will only cover part of the cost.
That being said, as the cost of preventative dental care is much lower than the cost of major procedures, it is always more cost-effective to book regular preventative check-ups.
How can you improve your oral health with at-home preventative dental care?
It is not just down to your dentist to care for your teeth, mouth, and gums. You also need to take responsibility for your oral health in between dental visits.
The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes at a time. In addition to this, you should also floss daily.
In terms of your lifestyle, you should avoid smoking and chewing tobacco as these habits increase your risk of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. If you need help quitting, your doctor or your dentist will be able to help you with this.
It would help if you also aimed to eat a healthy and balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, starchy and high-carb snacks, and alcohol and try and drink lots of water throughout the day.
If you have children, make sure that you teach them about the importance of good oral health and get them used to regularly seeing the dentist for oral exams. They should brush twice a day once their teeth start to come through and avoid sugary drinks and snacks.