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Serving Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada since 1999.

What exactly is preventive dentistry and why is it important in maintenance of our overall health?

Preventive Dentistry – The aspects of dentistry concerned with the teeth, oral cavity, and associated structures, including early detection,  prevention of disease, diagnosis, treatment of oral tissues, and restoration of defective or missing tissue.

“The body is like a piano, and hap­pi­ness is like music. It is need­ful to have the instru­ment in good order”

- Henry Beecher Ward

Dentistry as a whole focuses on prevention and treatment of dental disease. Preventive dentistry includes both at home and in office dental care. At home dental care includes maintaining a healthy dental hygiene regimen in between dental visits, trying to eat healthier meals and snacks, cessation of harmful habits such as smoking, and managing health issues. In office dental care includes regular dental examinations along with professional cleanings, oral cancer screenings, updated health history, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, and other required dental restorations. Home care and in office care work hand in hand to keep our teeth healthy, strong, and free from dental disease.

Unfortunately, many of us tend to neglect our dental care in one way or another. This could mean not following up with care recommended by your dentist or just not brushing and flossing properly (or even regularly). Tooth decay left untreated or undetected, can lead to more serious dental treatment being needed or even to loss of teeth. Periodontal disease can and will progress if not treated in its earliest stages. Periodontal disease can also lead to serious health issues such as heart disease or stroke, and recent studies link poor oral hygiene to pancreatic cancer. Preventive dentistry is an integral part to protecting not just our teeth but also our general health. Preventive dentistry acts as health guard.

What is Included In Preventive Dentistry?

-Dental Hygiene. This might very well be one of the most important things you can do to maintain both your dental health as well as general health. Numerous studies have shown that the build up of plaque, tartar, and bacteria in periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, strokes, cancer, and even alzheimer’s disease. Flossing and brushing is an integral part of guarding against tooth decay and periodontal disease but it also acts as a protector for your heart and vascular systems. Without a proper dental hygiene regimen plaque and tartar will quickly form leading to tooth decay and periodontal disease.

-Dental X-Rays. Routine x-rays are an important part of preventive dentistry. X-rays can detect tooth decay, bone loss, some tumors (oral cancer), cysts, poor bone quality, and bone infections which in their earliest forms would not be detectable using a visual examination alone.

-Fluoride Treatment. Fluoride is a mineral that plays an important part in preventative dentistry by strengthening teeth and preventing tooth decay. For those with a history of tooth decay your dentist may recommend the use of a fluoride mouth rinse, or prescription fluoride products between dental visits.

-Nutritional Counseling. Most people do not realize how important a balanced diet is to their dental health. Foods and drinks containing sugar quickly begin to attack the teeth after entering the mouth. Most dentists recommend avoiding soft drinks or sugary foods as often as possible. If you choose to eat or drink these sweets, brush and rinse your teeth as soon as possible following ingestion of these items. Keep snacking to a minimum, try to eat well balanced meals, and you will find that your healthier choices will affect your dental health in a positive way.

-Cessation of Habits. Many harmful habits can be eliminated with help from your dentist. Nail biting, tooth grinding and clenching can be kept under control with dental appliances. Smoking can be stopped with prescription drugs such as chantix, nicotine patches, and counseling, Drug use may be addressed and a rehab program suggested.

-Dental Sealants. A dental sealant is a thin plastic-like coating that is applied over back teeth. Sealants are placed in areas of grooves and ridges where plaque can hide and the toothbrush can’t reach as easily. Covering up the grooves helps to prevent tooth decay. Dental sealants are most often applied as preventive dentistry for children but can also be used for adults.

-Oral Cancer Screening. Early diagnosis of oral cancers give patients the best chance for survival in the long term. Find a dentist who uses the Velscope early detection oral cancer screening system to ensure you are being checked regularly. The best defense against oral cancer is an early diagnosis. The mortality rate of oral cancer increases dramatically if not detected in its earliest stages.

Preventive Dentistry Conclusion

Considering that oral health is linked to overall health, preventive dentistry is important to your overall well being.  Oral diseases can interfere with eating, speaking, daily activities and even self esteem. Preventive dentistry can lead to less extensive (and less expensive!) treatment for any dental conditions that may develop, and help you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.

We don’t often give much regard to the importance of the bone our teeth sit in until there is a problem. The bone not only serves as the foundation for our teeth but it also plays a big part in our visual aesthetic appearance. Bone can be lost by tooth removal or periodontal disease. If a tooth is missing or removed, the bone may collapse into the empty socket and cause a sunken appearance to our cheeks or jawbone. A bone graft can restore these problems caused by dental disease or those that result from an accident. One of the main reasons for bone grafts in modern dentistry is to form a good foundation for dental implants.

What is a Bone Graft?

A bone graft is the replacement or augmentation of the bone around the teeth. Bone grafting is a term used to describe a variety of procedures used to add or build bone so that dental implants can be placed.
Dental Bone Grafting
A bone graft typically involves adding bone or bone like materials to the jaw. The bone graft can be your own bone (also called Autologous  bone), synthetic bone, be processed bone obtained from a cadaver (also called Allograft), or can even come from bovine/cow sources (these types are also called Xenografts). After grafting, you generally have to wait several months for the grafted material to fuse or become one with the existing bone structure.  Processed bone grafted materials either cause surrounding bone to grow into the graft or cause cells around the graft to change into bone. Autologous bone transplants bone cells or a block of bone that fuses to the jaw.

Implant Dentistry

It is often used to augment bone to allow for a more successful implant placement. A few reasons for bone grafting in implant dentistry include:
1) Augmenting bone in the sinus area to allow for implant placement.
2) Augmenting bone to enhance the fit and comfort of removable prostheses (dentures)
3) To enhance aesthetics of a missing tooth site in the smile or aesthetic zone. This zone is generally defined as the visible area seen upon full smile, including the teeth, gingiva, and lips.
For a dental implants to be a success, the patient must have sufficient bone in the jaw to place the implant into.
Assumptions were once made that if a patient did not have sufficient quality or quantity of bone in their jaw they would not be suitable candidates for dental implants. Today, thanks to the exponential advances in dental techniques, materials, and technology, patients with insufficient bone in their jaws can have the bone rebuilt using bone grafting.

Bone Grafting Procedure

The actual bone grafting procedure is quite straightforward. A dentist will assess the quantity and quality of your bone during the treatment planning stages. It will be at this time that he/she will determine if there is a need for bone grafting. Then your dentist will review the different types of bone grafts with you and decide which will be the most suitable for your individual case.

Once this has been decided the bone graft procedure can be performed. The actual procedure requires the dentist to place bone under the gum tissue at the site where the bone graft is needed. The dentist will then be able to place the bone to be grafted onto the site and then cover it with a membrane for protection. Membranes are often used to help stabilize the bone graft as well as keep the gum tissue from invading the healing bone graft. The gum tissue will grow at a much faster rate than bone, therefore, membranes are used to prevent gum tissue from growing in and displacing the bone graft before it fully matures.This membrane is also used to protect the boneDental Bone Grafting from any germs found in the oral cavity and ensure that the area is perfectly clean to allow the healing process to take place. Finally, the area is closed and the tissue is stitched into place. Bone graft healing time is usually right around 4-6 months. But this can vary from patient to patient. Patients are given a prescription for antibiotics to take following their bone graft. Antibiotic mouthwashes can also be prescribed to preserve the health of the gum covering the bone graft.

On follow up visits the dentist will check on the success of the bone graft by taking x-rays to determine the height and width of the new bone. Once this has been verified as satisfactory, and the site of the bone graft is completely healed, the next stage of the dental implant process can begin.

Dental bone grafts for the purpose of dental implants has a very high success rate. But there is always a possibility that the bone graft will not work as planned, even if your own bone was used. Bone grafts are not rejected by the body like organ transplants. There is still some mystery as to why some bone grafts fail. We do know that certain people (for example, smokers, diabetics, patients with poor dental hygiene) have higher risks of graft failure.

A failed graft will need to be removed. Once healed properly, you and your dentist may choose to place a second graft.

A bone graft gives the implant dentist and patient one more tool to achieve a successful outcome to just about any implant treatment.

Dental Bone Graft

As we get older, our oral health becomes more important than ever. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is not just for your teeth and gums. Senior adults have unique dental needs and challenges. This includes a vital link between a person’s general health and their oral health. A healthy mouth makes all the difference in the world if you want to feel good, stay healthy, and look great throughout your life. By adopting healthy oral habits at home, seeking regular dental care, and making smart choices about diet and lifestyle, you will be well on your way to keeping your teeth strong and sparkling for a lifetime.

Across the United States, 10,000 adults reach senior age every day and the number is growing rapidly.  Bt age 65, statistics show that older adults are managing a minimum of two chronic conditions and are usually taking multiple medications. The taking of multiple medications increases their risk for dry mouth, which can quickly lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Untreated dental disease can result in pain, infection, poor nutrition, and lowered self esteem, all of which can have a very large impact on the quality of life.

A senior with good oral health not only makes it easier to eat nutritious foods, but it can also give you the confidence to smile, talk, and maintain a high self esteem. Research has shown seniors with good oral health are less likely to develop heart disease, strokes, or diabetes.

Certain dental health problems are more common in seniors, they include the following:

1) Tooth Cavities. Cavities are caused by plaque bacteria which breakdown the enamel and cause holes in the teeth. Soft diet, dry mouth, limited dexterity, a large number of crowns and fillings to clean around, and high sugars or acids in your diet will increase your chances of decay.

2) Periodontal Disease. Seniors are at higher risk of periodontal disease (gum disease). Gum disease occurs when plaque builds up beneath your gum line causing inflammation and bone loss. Certain medications cause the gums to swell and bleed and make it more difficult to remove plaque. This may cause gum recession and periodontal disease.

3) Root Cavities. The roots of the teeth can also decay. Once gums recede, the unprotected root surface is very easy for the plaque bacteria to attack. With no enamel to protect it, the cavity can progress rapidly to the nerve of the tooth.

4) Tooth Sensitivity. As we get older, our gums may recede, exposing root surfaces. The roots have nerve endings close to the surface which can become increasingly sensitive to hot, cold, brushing, and sweets. If you experience sensitivity, try a sensitivity toothpaste (like Colgate Sensitive Pro-Health) . If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

5) Dry mouth or Xerostomia. Dry mouth is a common condition in the senior population and one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders (like radiation therapy for cancer). If this condition is left untreated, it can cause damage to your teeth. Dry mouth occurs when there is reduced salivary flow. Plaque tends to build up when the mouth is dry, putting you at an increased risk for cavities. Your dentist can recommend multiple methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as treatments or medications to help prevent the development of cavities. Two products I recommend are Biotene and Listerine Zero.

6) Denture Issues. Many older people wear dentures. If they are not properly cared for, they can cause dental health problems, especially fungal infections such as yeast. A sign of a yeast infection is bright red irritated tissue, itchiness, burning, or a white creamy build up on oral tissues or denture. Just because you have dentures does not mean you do not need a dental examination. You should have an annual check of your denture fit, oral tissues, and oral cancer screening. As well as a jaw x-ray every five years to detect growth or changes in the bone.

 

To help keep your mouth healthy and your teeth strong as we age:

Brush. Brushing your teeth can help to remove the thin film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth after eating. So brush at least twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. An electric toothbrush is recommended for seniors as it easier for them to maintain hygiene properly. Our office recommends the Rotadent electric toothbrush. We also recommend the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This allows the patient to see visually if they left any plaque behind and work on ares they are missing.

Floss.Flossing your teeth can help prevent plaque from building up between teeth. Floss at least once a day. We also recommend the use of floss mate. A variety of companies (Butler GUM floss mate or REACH access flosser), make these products and are easily found at the local drug store. These products work well in patients with minimal or reduced dexterity.

Keep up with dentist appointments. If you maintain a regular appointment schedule your dentist can monitor your dental health and make adjustments to your care to avoid serious problems down the road. Routine dental examinations and cleanings are an important part of maintaining good dental health.

If you smoke…QUIT! In addition to increasing your risk of many health conditions, smoking can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. There are a variety of methods available to quit to make it as painless a possible.

Take care of dentures. If you have dentures, see your dentist regularly (we recommend at least once a year) to make sure they are fitting properly.

Keep your dentures clean by brushing and rinsing them daily and soaking them at night in a denture cleansing liquid.

There are many dental health challenges as we age, but maintaining good oral hygiene and monitoring to your dental health can keep your smile sparkling for many years to come.

Listerine Zero