Preventive dentistry prevents people from developing dental problems later on; cavities, gingivitis, enamel loss, and periodontists can all be avoided or mitigated with proper dental care.
Everyone benefits from preventive dentistry. Children in particular benefit because it allows their newly developing adult teeth to come in strong and healthy. Aging adults benefit from preventive dentistry because it helps them to keep their real teeth.
Oral health is connected to body health as a whole. This is because the mouth is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Maintaining a clean mouth benefits overall health.
With good dental hygiene, patients greatly reduce their risk of getting cavities, gingivitis, periodontists, and other dental problems. This, in turn, can reduce the risk of secondary problems caused by poor oral health.
Prevention of decay: When you visit your dentist they will assess your risk of developing tooth decay at your examination and give you specific advice on how to prevent tooth decay and will prepare a dental plan tailored on your individual needs However below is some general advice. This information is based on the department of health guidance 2nd edition, published July 2009.
General advice: Tooth decay (also known as caries) is a disease process that causes breakdown of the teeth to cause cavities. Decay can affect children or adults but children are particularly susceptible. Often the decay process is pain-free until the decay reaches the nerve of the tooth so regular dental examinations are advised to diagnose decay early. Both bacteria and sugar are required for decay to occur in a tooth. Sugar is turned into acid by plaque bacteria. This acid destroys the tooth causing cavities. Tooth brushing and flossing help to reduce the number of bacteria which helps prevent decay. However we are unlikely to be able to completely remove all the bacteria from our mouth so we also need to reduce the amount of sugars in our diet to prevent decay. Every time sugar enters your mouth your teeth will decay for a period of at least 20 minutes.By reducing the frequency of consumption of sugary foods and drinks you can help reduce the amount of decay you will experience. Help avoid decay by reducing your sugary snacks between meals and avoid for at least 1 hour before bedtime. Many foods and drinks contain sugars but this may not be apparent from the label Refined sugars are the main ones implicated in decay. Examples of refined sugars you may see on ingredients lists are: sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose and galatose
Prevention of Erosion: Erosion is the loss of tooth enamel caused by acid attack and is becoming increasingly more common in the UK. Erosion usually shows up as hollows in the teeth and a general wearing away of the tooth surface and biting edges. This can expose the dentine underneath, which is a darker, yellower colour than the enamel. Because the dentine is sensitive your teeth can also be more sensitive to hot, cold or sweet foods and drinks. Because plaque bacteria are not involved in the process, dental erosion affects patients even if they have excellent oral hygiene.
What are the common effects? Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on your teeth becomes softer for a short while, and loses some of its mineral content. Your saliva will slowly neutralize this acidity in your mouth and restore it to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, the mouth does not have a chance to repair itself and tiny particles of enamel can be brushed away. Over time, you would start to lose the surface of your teeth.
Causes: Acidic foods and drinks such as fruit and fruit juices, particularly citric ones including lemon and orange, can be particularly harmful to teeth. Fruit juices and fruits contain natural acids, which can be just as harmful to teeth. Fizzy drinks are also a cause of enamel erosion. It is important to remember that even the diet brands are still as harmful. Even flavored fizzy waters can have an effect if taken in large amounts, as they contain certain acids which can harm the teeth. Pickled foods also have erosive potential due to their high concentration of acid. It is important to have acidic foods and drinks at mealtimes only. Healthy foods such as fruit and fruit juices are not always the best options for teeth if you have too much of them. It is also recommended that you do not brush your teeth for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic, so that your teeth can build up their mineral content again. Regurgitation of stomach acids may also cause erosion. Conditions such as hiatus hernia, bulimia and excessive alcohol intake may therefore cause erosion. Tooth brushing immediately after food or drink can cause erosive enamel loss.
Treatment: The best treatment is early diagnosis and preventative treatment. Removing the cause and brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste is all that is required most of the time. Newer products such as “Tooth Mousse” and “Pro enamel” may offer a degree of protection from erosion of permanent enamel. Limit acidic products and fizzy drinks to mealtimes to reduce the number of acid attacks on your teeth. Drinks should be drunk quickly without holding in or ‘swishing’ around your mouth. Or use a straw to help drinks go to the back of your mouth and avoid long contact with your teeth. Finish a meal with cheese or milk as this will help neutralize the acid, chew sugar-free gum after eating to help produce more saliva to help cancel out the acids which form in your mouth after eating. Wait for at least one hour after eating or drinking anything acidic before brushing your teeth. This gives your teeth time to build up their mineral content again. Brush your teeth twice a day with a small-headed brush with medium to soft bristles and fluoride toothpaste. Avoid “Whitening” toothpastes that may be more abrasive than regular toothpastes.
Those at high risk of decay: Use a fluoride mouth rinse daily (0.05% Fluoride) at a different time to brushing if advised to do so by your dentist or hygienist.
Age Specific Advice: Specific advise has been published by the Department of Health, depending on your risk of developing tooth decay and if you are in any doubt what is correct for you or your child, please asks your dentist.
Advice for 0-6 Years: Breast feeding provides the best nutrition for babies. From age one year feeding from a bottle should be discouraged. Sugar should not be added to weaning foods. Parents should brush or supervise tooth brushing. Use only a smear of toothpaste containing no less than 1,000 ppm fluoride. As soon as teeth erupt in the mouth brush them twice daily. The frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks should be reduced and, when consumed, limited to mealtimes. Sugars should not be consumed more than 4 times each day. Sugar-free medicines should be recommended.
Advice for 3-6 Years: Brush last thing at night and on one other occasion. Brushing should be supervised by an adult. Use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste containing 1,350–1,500 ppm fluoride. Spit out after brushing and do not rinse. The frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks should be reduced and, when consumed, limited to mealtimes. Sugars should not be consumed more than four times per day.
Advice from 7 years upwards: Brush last thing at night and on one other occasion. Use fluoridated toothpaste (1,350 ppm fluoride or above) Spit out after brushing and do not rinse. The frequency and amount of sugary food and drinks should be reduced and, when consumed, limited to mealtimes. Sugars should not be consumed more than four times per day.