|Preventive dentistry is one of the most important services that we offer at Cedar Creek Dental. Regularly scheduled dental exams and cleanings will give you the best opportunity for long-term dental health. Preventive care emphasizes the importance of ongoing dental hygiene procedures and daily practices when it comes to the prevention of tooth decay and other dental conditions and diseases. Effective preventive care also combines at-home care by patients with the chair-side treatments you will receive in our office.
At Cedar Creek Dental, we offer a variety of preventive services that can help you to maintain optimal oral health:
- Dental cleanings are recommended in order to regularly remove stains and dental plaque that you are unable to remove yourself. These appointments also allow your dentist to check for signs of tooth decay.
- Regular gum disease screenings give your dentist the chance to inspect your teeth and gums, and if signs of gum disease are present, preventive measures can be suggested to ensure that the disease does not progress.
- Dental x-rays allow your dentist to look for dental problems that aren't easily visible, such as cavities located between the teeth and other problems that might exist beyond the gum line.
- Sealants are thin coatings that are placed onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Usually placed onto the teeth of children, sealants help to protect against tooth decay and cavities.
- The use of advanced dental technology can help your dentist to find potential problems as quickly as possible, including intra-oral cameras and ultrasonic scalers.
Preventive Dental Exams
Regular dental examinations are an essential part of preventive health care. During your exam at Cedar Creek Dental, you will meet with an experienced hygienist and dentist in order to have your teeth cleaned and to identify bone loss or gum inflammation. Your dentist will evaluate your tooth decay risk and any other dental health problems, and your mouth, neck, and face will also be checked for abnormalities.
Throughout your exam, your dentist will discuss your oral hygiene habits and diet, and they may also demonstrate proper techniques in brushing and flossing. Other topics that you might discuss include dentures, tobacco use, medications that you might be taking, and the benefits of dental work. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about your dental health.
Why Do You Need a Dental Exam?
Regular dental examinations at Cedar Creek Dental will help to protect your dental health and your overall well-being. These exams give your dentist the opportunity to provide tips on how to properly care for your teeth. He or she can also detect any problems early on when they are the most treatable.
When Should You Have a Dental Exam?
According to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, adults should schedule exams with a dentist every six months. Even if you wear dentures and no longer have natural teeth, it is important to meet with your dentist regularly in order to maintain good oral health and to ensure that your replacement teeth remain useful.
What Can You Expect at Your Dental Exam?
During your dental exam, your hygienist and dentist will complete a variety of activities to determine your overall oral health:
- Evaluate your risk for tooth decay, bone or gum disease, and root decay.
- Evaluate your need for tooth replacement or tooth restoration.
- Look for signs of other dental problems, such as teeth grinding or trench mouth.
- Check your jaw and bite for problems.
- Remove any deposits or stains found on your teeth.
- Demonstrate techniques for properly cleaning your teeth or dentures.
- Assess the amount of fluoride you are getting through your use of dental hygiene products, diet, and water source.
- If necessary, take X-rays and other diagnostic procedures
Throughout your exam, your dental care team at Cedar Creek Dental will also want to know about any medical problems you have or medications that you are taking, as these issues could impact your oral health. For example, medications that cause dry mouth can increase your tooth decay risk.
Dental X-rays are also an important part of a dental exam, as these images allow your dentist to see detailed pictures of specific portions of your mouth. While traditional films were developed in a special darkroom, new X-ray imaging techniques allow the pictures to be sent to a computer to then be viewed on a screen. There are several different types of X-rays that may be used during your dental exam:
- Bitewing. This X-ray allows a dentist to see the crowns of the teeth. To take the image, you'll need to bite onto the film holder when the X-ray images are taken.
- Panoramic. This X-ray gives a dentist a broad view of the whole mouth.
- Occlusal. This X-ray allows your dentist to see how the top and bottom teeth fit together when your mouth is closed.
- Periapical. This X-ray allows the dentist to view the tooth and the bone that surrounds it.
Oral Cancer Examination
During dental exams, your dentist will look for signs of oral cancer. He or she will work to feel under your jaw, neck, and the insides of your cheeks and lips. The roof and floor of your mouth and your tongue will also be examined for signs of a problem.
In certain situations, your dentist may want to take a dental impression of your jaws in order to create a replica of your teeth. This process can help your dentist to evaluate your bite, and it may also be needed to make a bleaching tray or mouth guard. This process includes filing a U-shaped tray with a soft material before placing the trays onto your teeth. After a couple of minutes, the trays will be removed, and the impression that they took can be used to develop a dental cast of your mouth.
Why Is it So Important to Visit the Dentist Regularly?
Regular dental visits and professional cleanings can make a major difference to your overall health. A clean mouth reduces the likelihood of developing cavities, and it can also improve the health of your whole body. Healthy teeth help you to eat the food that you need while also reducing the number of harmful bacteria that you swallow. In addition to these facts, there are numerous other reasons that you should visit the dentist regularly:
- Keeping the teeth strong becomes more difficult as you age, as the enamel will wear down. Dental visits can help you to understand how to care for your teeth as they change with age.
- Visiting the dentist regularly will result in a more attractive smile, and this can boost your confidence and self-esteem.
- Cavities aren't just painful, and they can cause serious complications. Without receiving consistent dental checkups, cavities can create dangerous infections in your blood.
- Failing to visit the dentist will put you at a greater risk for gingivitis and gum diseases that result in bleeding and irritation. Allowing these diseases to live in your mouth will increase the likelihood that you experience tooth loss and other problems.
- Detecting problems when they first arise is a cost effective dental health strategy, as they are often easier and less expensive to correct in their beginning stages.
When Should Preventive Care Start?
Preventive dentistry should begin with the first tooth. Daily brushing should begin when the first tooth erupts through the gums, and it is recommended that your child visit the dentist by 12 months of age in order to establish a dental home. These early visits with a dentist are a foundation for a life of good oral health. The earlier your child begins with dental visits, the better the chances will be that you'll prevent dental disease and help your child to build a beautiful smile that is free of cavities.
Children with healthy mouths have a better chance of being healthy overall. Certain oral health conditions may interfere with nutritional intake, eating, self-esteem, speaking, and daily activities. Severe tooth decay could affect development and growth, and children who experience oral pain may struggle academically if they aren't able to concentrate properly in school. A healthy mouth appears more attractive while giving a child confidence in how they look. Additionally, preventive dentistry for children can result in less extensive and less expensive oral treatment for your children.
Do Older Adults with Dentures Need Preventive Care?
Many adults feel that they no longer need preventive dentistry services once they begin to wear dentures, but this is not accurate. Just like natural teeth, dentures should be cared for diligently with regularly brushing and visits to your dentist. At Cedar Creek Dental, we can make adjustments to ensure that your dentures fit comfortably and naturally, and we can also help to clear them of food particles, plaque, and other debris. Keeping your dentures in the best possible shape can help to keep the soft tissues of the mouth healthy, as malformed dentures or those that haven't been cleaned properly can result in irritation or infection.
What Can Preventative Checkups Tell Me About My Health?
While preventative dental exams are important in giving your dentist information about your oral health, these checkups can also provide information about your overall health. At Cedar Creek Dental, we are often the first to notice symptoms of certain medical conditions or problems, and we are concerned about more than just the state of your teeth. Instead, we look at how your oral health will fit into your total well-being, and we search for symptoms of a variety of conditions:
- Diabetes: People who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes have a greater chance of developing gum disease, as their ability to fight off bacterial infections is impaired.
- Stress Bruxism, or the grinding of the teeth, is often caused by stress. While you might not be aware that you are grinding, your dentist can spot the symptoms.
- Low-weight or premature births: Research suggests that pregnant women who experience serious gum disease are more likely to develop a baby prematurely or a baby with a low birth weight.
- Heart Disease: Gum disease can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack, so by treating gum disease and inflammation, you might be able to lower your risk of experiencing one of these events.
Preventive Care Strategies
During your dental examination at Cedar Creek Dental, you will have the chance to discuss preventive dentistry strategies with your hygienist and dentist. Some of these strategies begin at home:
- At-home dental hygiene: The best prevention technique is proper brushing and flossing of the teeth at least two times per day. This activity is essential in removing dental plaque from the teeth, which is a film coating that forms on the teeth due to bacteria. When plaque isn't removed, it can build up to produce tartar. This hard and sticky substance contains acid-producing bacteria that will result in tooth decay and possibly gum disease.
- Diet: A well-balanced diet is essential for dental health. Foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar can feed the bacteria that make dental plaque. Diets that are low in calcium can increase the likelihood that you will develop gum disease and jaw deterioration.
- Use of fluoride: Fluoride is important for preventing tooth decay and strengthening teeth. Many dental offices provide fluoride treatments, and it is recommended that fluoridated toothpastes and mouthwashes are used at home. Public water fluoridation, which is one of the greatest achievements in public health of the 20th century, also provides a great source of fluoride.
- Avoiding smoking: Nicotine is one of the worst substances when it comes to staining the teeth, so smoking and using chewing tobacco can negatively impact your oral health. In addition to tooth discoloration, smoking can lead to dry mouth and plaque buildup, so the use of nicotine could result in tooth loss, gum disease, or even oral cancer.
At Cedar Creek Dental, we know that proper patient education is the first step in preventative dentistry, so we aim to make sure that all of our patients feel confident in their ability to properly care for their teeth at home.