Your smile can be natural and charming without you having to pay a large bill to keep it that way! How? Through the practice of Preventive Dental Care. Your dentist, however, cannot practice Preventive Dental Care effectively without your co-operation.
What is Preventive Dental Care?
The primary goal of preventive dental care is the promotion of good dental health and the prevention of any form of dental disease or disability. In this way the treatment orientated needs of the patient is reduced, making regular dental care cheaper and less time consuming. If treatment is required, preventive dental care can still be practised at a secondary level. This is done by ensuring that the treatment plan includes examination and explanation of the possible causes of the problem and the steps that can be taken to control or eliminate it. Treatment offers the possibility of an attractive smile and the return to normal functions of eating and talking. If treatment is carried out without the knowledge of maintaining the teeth and gums in optimum health, the work done will not be effective or lasting.
Preventive dental care requires the patient's commitment to work together with the dentist to achieve the desired level of dental health. The patient's co-operation in following the instructions given, improving on current health practices or adopting new health practices as advised by the dentist are essential if prevention is to succeed. All this requires a change in attitude and behaviour and the willingness to make regular dental visits at appropriate intervals to maintain what has been achieved at an optimum level.
The frequency of preventive dental visits depends on the individual patient. A well motivated, health-conscious patient who has mastered the techniques of keeping his oral tissues (teeth and gums) in a healthy state may need to visit the dentist just once a year whereas another, due to constraints such as work commitments or an inability to change behaviour, may need a dental appointment once every two or three months. Whatever the frequency of the visits, it is definitely more advantageous from the health and economic point of the view for one to keep preventive dental appointments than to have expensive repair and rehabilitation that could have been prevented or minimised with early detection. An added advantage with preventive dental care is that it is pain free.
Preventive dental care is more a concept than a set of procedures. This concept is reinforced when you visit the dentist for no other reason than a need to see if the mouth is being maintained at optimal health.
What should one expect at a preventive dental visit?
All prevention-orientated dentists would record or up-date the medical records of the patients first, even if there is no complaint of a problem from the patient. This is to prevent any problem that could occur due to some medical condition that may be present in the patient. Medical problems may be the cause of certain conditions that manifest in the mouth. Oral health is closely related to total health. For example,people who have diabetes may be more prone to infections in the mouth. Research has shown that people who have had strokes are more likely to have another stroke if infections in the mouth are not eliminated. Studies also show that women during pregnancy are more prone to gum disease. Uncontrolled gum disease has been associated with premature births. Information on general health should, therefore be continually up-dated, especially when the dentist has not seen his patient for sometime. The dentist is also in a position to refer the patient for appropriate medical attention, if in the course of his observation and questioning, he discovers some new health problem.
Examination of the soft and hard tissues in the mouth is then carried out with the aid of X-rays if deemed necessary by the dentist. The soft tissues like the lips, cheeks, tongue, roof and back of the mouth are checked to ensure that they are healthy. The patient may not be aware of early lesions such as ulcers or sores. Such conditions are more likely to appear in smokers or people with medical conditions that tend to lower their resistance. Some of these initial lesions are harmless while others can be cancerous. Early detection can save lives!
The gums, too, are scrutinised by the dentist. Patients usually are unaware of any problems here because of the insidious and painless nature of the early changes that occur in gum disease. Prompt attention can prevent a lot of the irreversible destruction of the underlying bone and gum tissue; the natural consequence of this disease.
Gross decay of the teeth is usually noted by the patient because of the pain or discomfort of food getting stuck in the cavities formed. However early lesions that occur on the chewing surfaces of the teeth or in-between teeth can only be detected by the dentist. Not all early signs of decay are treated by drilling and filling of the tooth. Initial lesions seen only in the enamel of the tooth and with no break on the surface can be re-hardened by the application of fluorides. Such preventive dental care, instituted early, restores the tooth back to its natural, sound condition.
Of course preventive dental procedures like these only work well if there is good home care by the patient. Some time is spent during a preventive dental visit to reinforce oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing which go a long way in preventing, controlling and eliminating gum disease. If the patient has some problems with such oral hygiene practices, the cause is sought and various solutions are discussed with the patient. The diet of the individual may have to be monitored if patient has a problem of recurring dental decay or other issues like erosion of tooth surfaces. Diet modification may be proposed or, if this is impossible, alternative approaches to controlling the disease with the patient's co-operation is suggested.
Children, especially, will benefit from such regular dental visits as reinforcement of oral hygiene practices and appropriate health behaviour during the habit forming age will see them through a life-time of good dental health. Loss of teeth is not inevitable if one knows the value of proper dental care, both at home and through regular dental visits. Through regular association with a child, the dentist is able to predict his susceptibility to dental decay. If necessary, materials called fissure sealants are applied by the dentist to newly erupted molars and premolars to prevent decay in a child susceptible to dental caries. The pattern of fissures and pits on these teeth make them less resistant to caries or decay especially when newly erupted. Regular visits by children also allow the dentist to recognise any impending overcrowding of teeth or malpositioning of the jaws. In such cases, He would advise parents on the necessity and timing of orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic treatment instituted at the right time will give the best results for a pleasant smile and grater chewing efficiency.
Enjoy Having Clean Teeth
After ensuring that no other treatment is required, the dentist (or a dental personnel to whom the job has been delegated) will clean and polish the teeth thoroughly. This removes any stains due to tobacco or food and any calculus or tartar formed in areas which the patient found difficult to clean well.
Thus the patient goes home from preventive dental visits, (or series of visits if treatment is required), secure in the knowledge that his oral health is at its best. He is also armed with the necessary information to maintain it at this optimum level until he sees his dentist again.
Regular Visits will help your friendly dentist to know you, your habits and your difficulties or special conditions that affects your oral health. This will let your dentist know how frequent your maintenance visits should be. Keep your maintenance visits and you can look naturally good and, enjoy tasty food and good conversation all the time -- with preventive dental care.