We believe prevention is the most important key to overall oral health. Part of prevention is having check-ups every six months. This enables us to catch any problems such as cavities, cracks in an existing filling (which can lead to secondary cavities), gum disease, or any unusual growths in the soft tissue of the mouth that must be attended to.
At these check-ups the hygienist will clean your teeth, and may discuss how nutrition affects your dental health, and the dentist will check your teeth and gums. Your dental team may also recommend sealants as part of your preventative care routine. Sealants are a clear plastic resin coating, like nail polish, that forms a physical barrier to oxygen. Sealants “starve” the bacteria that cause tooth decay. We apply sealants on the back teeth where pits and grooves typically form and are impossible to keep free from plaque and food particles.
X-rays are an important tool in aiding the dentist with diagnosing cavities that may be in between teeth or under an old filling. They also show bone loss around the teeth indicating gum disease. These problems may show up on x-rays before they can be seen clinically.
Because of fluorides, children have achieved a dramatic reduction in tooth decay. We see it every day in our office and it reaffirms our belief in preventive dentistry.
Topical fluorides have many benefits to adults as well. Adults sometimes experience cold sensitivity; the fluoride fills in the microscopic tubules that are tunnels leading to nerve endings, which helps to reduce sensitivity.
As we age, the gingival (gum) tissue can recede, exposing the root surfaces, which are porous. Some causes of gingival recession can be caused by brushing too hard or grinding/clenching the teeth. It is best to be evaluated by a dentist to determine the exact cause.
Over-the-counter desensitizing toothpastes can help. Your dentist can prescribe a toothpaste with higher concentration of fluoride. A fluoride varnish can also be applied to cover exposed root surfaces.