8 Ways Preventive Dentistry Can Benefit You & Your Child’s Oral Hygiene
Keeping our teeth and gums healthy by practicing good oral hygiene is critical to our overall health. And preventive dentistry is the key to ensuring our teeth stay healthy throughout our lifetimes. But what exactly is preventive dentistry, and what are its benefits?
Preventive dentistry is professional dental care that helps you maintain optimal oral health. Preventive dental care is a combination of regular, twice-annual trips to your dentist for cleanings and routine X-rays, along with a good, at-home oral hygiene regimen that includes daily brushing and flossing.
Taking care of your teeth and gums needs to start early in life, so when you learn how to manage an excellent oral care routine at home, you will realize those benefits throughout your lifetime. When you practice good oral hygiene at home and see your dentist twice a year for an oral examination and dental cleaning, your smile will be brighter, whiter, and healthier. So check out the following 8 ways you can prevent the buildup of plaque and cavities.
1. Start a good at-home dental care routine from the time the first tooth erupts.
If you are the parent of a young child, you probably wonder how to care for your child’s mouth. But thankfully, caring for your baby’s mouth isn’t as difficult as you might fear. Start by cleaning your baby’s tongue when they are first born. You can also use a damp washcloth or soft towel to gently and carefully rub your baby’s upper and lower gums. This not only helps to clean the gums but gets your child used to having something in their mouth. Toothbrushing should start as soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, usually after six months of age. Use a soft-bristled, infant-sized, dentist-approved brush to gently brush your baby’s teeth. Be sure to use a baby toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association.
2. Practice a healthy diet for strong teeth.
We all know that some foods are better for us than others. For example, we should grab a handful of crunchy carrots at snack time rather than a handful of crunchy potato chips. But eating healthy does more than protect your waistline. Healthy foods and beverages are critical for strong teeth too. For example, foods high in calcium such as low-fat cheese, fat-free or low-fat milk, plain yogurt, and leafy greens provide nourishment and sustenance and are great for your teeth. In addition, foods high in protein such as eggs, fish, meat, and poultry protect the enamel of your teeth and improve bone density.
Finally, fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, stimulate saliva which helps wash away food particles, neutralize acids, and prevent decay. These foods also balance out the sugar you may be consuming from other foods. For these reasons, it’s also important to prioritize water over other beverages whenever possible.
3. Get regular dental checkups, starting at age one.
We recommend that your child’s first dental visit take place by the time they turn one or within six months of their first tooth erupting through the gums. Depending on your child’s age and dental circumstances, the visit may include a full oral examination to check growth and development. But almost as important as the examination itself is that getting your child to the dentist from an early age makes them more comfortable with the process. Further, regular dentist visits that start at age one will help get your child into the habit of going to the dentist every six months in the future.
4. Ask your dentist about sealants.
Dental sealants are protective plastic coatings that are applied to the chewing surfaces of your rear teeth, where tooth decay often starts. By sealing the pits and fissures in your teeth, these dental sealants prevent more serious oral health issues from occurring. And dental sealants aren’t just for kids either. Sealants can help adults lessen their risk for cavities or tooth decay and the future need for crowns or root canals.
5. Get fluoride treatments from your dentist.
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is critical in building strong teeth and preventing cavities, and for that reason, it has been an essential oral health treatment for decades. In addition, it helps fight harmful bacteria in your mouth that can damage tooth enamel. But sometimes, we don’t get enough fluoride through natural sources. And when that happens, your family dentist will often recommend a fluoride treatment to help protect your teeth and ensure you are practicing optimal oral hygiene.
6. Try a nightguard if you clench or grind your teeth.
Clenching occurs when you bite down with excessive force for long periods of time. On the other hand, grinding is when you move your jaw back and forth repeatedly and your teeth rub against each other. The medical term for this combined condition is bruxism, and it generally occurs when we are sleeping or under great stress. However, many people don’t even realize they are clenching or grinding until their dentist informs them. Unfortunately, grinding your teeth can cause quite a bit of damage to the structure and enamel of your teeth, and excessive clenching can lead to chronic headaches, jaw pain, and neck pain.
If you are experiencing bruxism, your dentist might recommend a nightguard for you to wear when you sleep. Nightguards work by putting a barrier between your teeth, so if you clench your jaw, the nightguard will help lessen the tension and provide a cushion for your jaw muscles. When worn properly and regularly at night, nightguards can prevent face and jaw pain and provide extra protection for the enamel of your teeth.
7. Use a mouth guard if you play sports.
Similar to the nightguard, a mouth guard can also provide vital protection to your teeth if you play contact sports such as basketball, boxing, field hockey, football, ice hockey, and more. The American Dental Association suggests mouth guards be worn anywhere that individuals are at an increased risk of dental trauma or orofacial injury. These mouth guards form a protective layer over the upper teeth, reducing your risk of injury.
8. Seek early intervention if decay or damage occurs.
In addition to the other seven ways preventive dentistry can help protect your teeth, it is vital that patients also understand the significance of early intervention. By seeing your dentist regularly, they may be able to identify signs of trouble and provide treatment early on. When it comes to tooth decay or tooth damage, the earlier you seek treatment, the better. And early intervention starts when you are young, as it is crucial to recognize potential problems and educate children on how to care for their teeth and gums throughout their lives. Early dental checkups and trips to the dentist every six months help prevent cavities and tooth decay in young children and are critical for good oral hygiene.
Dr. Cooley Bentz is your preventive dentistry expert.
If you haven’t been visiting the dentist regularly and you live in the East Norriton, Pennsylvania, area, it is time to make a change. Preventive dentistry from Dr. Cooley Bentz can make a world of difference in your oral hygiene and smile. Request an appointment online or give our office a call.
We can’t wait to meet you and set you on the path to better oral hygiene.