Preventive care refers to measures taken to prevent diseases before they occur. In dentistry, preventative care deals with the preservation of healthy teeth and gums and the prevention of dental caries and oral diseases.
Preventive care involves the following measures:
Oral Hygiene Measures:
- Brushing: Use a soft-bristled brush. Move the brush in back and forth motions and gently brush the outer side of teeth followed by the inner side and then the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Use the tip of the brush in an up-and-down motion for the inside surfaces of the front teeth.
- Flossing: Take about 18 inches of floss and wind around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the other middle finger. Hold the floss between the thumbs and forefingers and gently pass it between all the teeth.
- Toothpastes and mouthwashes: Avoid abrasive toothpastes. Antimicrobial mouthwashes like chlorhexidine and Listerine help in reducing plaque. Rinse your mouth twice daily and after each meal.
- Dietary Management: Limit the frequency of consumption of sugar and avoid sticky foods such as hard candies and chewy chocolates.
- Fluoride treatment: Fluoride is a mineral that helps prevent cavities and helps teeth repair themselves. Fluoride treatment may be able to restore enamel and works to control early dental caries in several ways. The most effective method in the prevention of caries is the regular use of fluoride. Fluoride is usually applied to the teeth as a gel, foam or varnish.
Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to the public water supply to reduce tooth decay. It is particularly important in dental prevention because it is effective, safe and low cost.
- Dental Sealants: Sealants are thin plastic-like coatings that are applied to the tooth surface to prevent food from being trapped inside the surface of the tooth. These are applied soon after the permanent molar teeth erupt, usually between the ages of six and eight and then at twelve years of age. Sealants are easy, painless, and less expensive than treating caries. Dental sealants play an important role in helping to prevent cavities in some locations on the teeth. The result is a smooth tooth surface, one that is less likely to trap food and plaque, and one that is easier to clean with a toothbrush.
- Dental Prophylaxis: This refers to teeth cleaning as a preventative measure against gum disease and tooth decay. This treatment includes removal of plaque and tartar (hard crusty deposits that form on the teeth) in the upper and lower levels of the gum line. In this treatment, scaling and polishing procedures are used. Scaling refers to the removal of plaque and calculus from the tooth surface. Dental polishing refers to the process of maintain a smooth and glossy surface finish. The treatment may also include the application of caries preventing agents, checking of the restorations and prosthesis as well as checking for signs of food impaction.
- Avoid Smoking and use of Tobacco: Smoking and other tobacco products can lead to periodontal disease and impair blood flow to the gums, which may affect wound healing. Smoking and use of tobacco leads to bad breath, tooth discoloration, white patches inside the mouth, tooth and increased risk of developing oral cancer.
- Regular dental visits: Regular visits are essential for maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. Identifying and treating minor problems early can spare time and expense of more complicated procedures. Regular dental care is important not only for dental health but for overall health.
- Patient Education: Patient education is a key component to good dental health. Education about the basics of preventative dental care and the fundamentals of oral hygiene should motivate patients to maintain their dental health.
Conclusion: Oral health is linked to overall health and is important to overall well-being. Oral diseases can interfere with eating, speaking and daily activities. Preventive care can result in less extensive and less expensive treatment for any dental diseases that may develop.