"Prevention is better than cure" is the age old saying that works for just about anything – including your teeth. Failure to look after your mouth and everything in it can result in a plethora of problems that are often costly and painful. This is where preventative dentistry comes in. But what exactly does it mean and how do you know whether you need preventative dentistry?
What is preventative dentistry?
You guessed it. Preventative dentistry is focused on preventing problems regarding the teeth. It's the best way to keep the mouth healthy and reduce the risk of dental issues such as decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Preventative dentistry involves work from both the dentist and the patient. The more both parties focus on preventing these problems, the more chance you have of retaining your teeth and eliminating the chance of fillings and extractions.
Who can benefit from preventative dentistry?
Young or old, those with a full set or only a few teeth remaining; everyone can benefit from preventative dentistry. There are no telltale signs to show whether you need preventative dentistry. Instead, together with your dentist, you'll work to prevent any signs from even rearing their head in the first place.
What is involved in preventive dentistry?
As noted, preventative dentistry involves work from both the patient and the dentist. This means that some treatment takes place in the dental practice, while other methods can be completed in your very own home.
Preventative dentistry at home
There are a number of things you can do in your own home to stop dental problems in their tracks.
Practise proper dental care
Brushing twice a day and flossing sound like two extremely simple tasks – but unfortunately, not all New Zealanders are up to the task. Research from Colgate shows that 60 per cent of Kiwis over the age of 18 don't brush their teeth everyday. This may explain why around 262,000 adults (seven per cent) had one or more teeth removed in the past 12 months (latest Ministry of Health data). This two-minute task requires minimum effort but has maximum benefits when it comes to keeping bigger problems at bay.
Regular dental check ups
Whether you have a dental problem or not, visiting your dentist regularly is an easy way to spot early signs of damage and put measures in place to keep problems at bay.
Preventative dentistry in the practice
Your dentist is fully trained to treat a broad range of dental problems, but they're also capable of creating maintenance plans to stop such issues from appearing in the first place. These include:
Fissure sealants are a protective coating applied to teeth to prevent tooth decay and cavities. The name derives from the fissures (grooves) found on the tooth's surface. These pits are known to trap food and bacteria, and because of their small size, are tough to clean – even with specialised equipment. If not removed, such particles can lead the way for decay.
A fissure sealant covers the tooth's grooves, smoothing out surfaces to ensure that food particles and bacteria aren't trapped within these hard-to-reach areas. Fissure sealants differ from fillings because they are a preventative measure, not used to treat an existing problem.
Caries Management By Risk Assessment (CAMBRA)
CAMBRA is an evidence-based form of preventative dentistry which categorises patients based on their risk for developing dental caries (tooth decay). These risk factors include oral hygiene, diet, fluoride exposure, age and medication use.
This form of preventative dentistry is practised by our own dentist, Kamil Tinawi. If you'd like to find out more about CAMBRA assessments or how you can start putting your own preventative dental measures in place, get in touch with the team today, or schedule an appointment online.