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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.

Most people tend to focus on teeth and not the big picture. They see flaws in their smile and want them corrected but many often overlook the lips which frame our smiles. Our lips take a lot of abuse every day. From the wind, the sun, and our own bad habits. Did you know that our lips have no natural protections from the elements like other parts of our body? Our lips have no sweat or oil glands and to make matters worse we often neglect their care. Most of us are not careful enough to protect our lips from exposure to the Herpes virus, which affects the lips with painful blistering sores. By age 50, almost 90% of Americans have been exposed to herpes simplex 1 or 2, the viruses that cause cold sores

Harmful habits

We are often our own worst enemy when it comes to our body. Some habits that are harmful to our lips include:

-Constantly licking or biting our lips – Licking our lips cools and moisturizes them for a short period. Once they dry out, they become even drier than before. On top of that the enzymes in your mouth are also too harsh for your lips. Biting is usually a nervous habit which can cause a large fibrous nodule to form in the lip, or expose us to more bacteria by leaving a chronic open wound on the mouth.

-Kissing, and sharing lip products.- Herpes of the lips is usually transferred via kissing an infected person or using their lip product on your lips. Never kiss anyone with sores on their lips, even if it is almost gone! Never borrow lipstick or chapstick from anyone! Children can have a terrible outbreak from being exposed to herpes the first time. Many people don’t realize they are still contagious when their sore is almost gone and will kiss you or your child without thinking twice, you need to keep your eyes open!

-Smoking- smoking chronically irritates lip tissue, and can even stain the lips with nicotine.

-Open Mouth Breathing – Breathing through our mouths dries our lips out even more as the air travels in and out of our mouths. Whereas nose breathing will stop that dry air from drying our lips.

-Picking- Peeling or picking the chapping skin on your lips can lead to more damage and bleeding. Moisturize your peeling, chapped lips well with vaseline. You will be surprised at how fast they heal when kept moist.

-Piercings- lip piercings tend to cause increased saliva, lip licking, and lip biting. This leads to chronically irritated lips.

 Tips To Care For Lips

Choose A Nutritious Diet – Our skin as well as our lips are very dependent on what we eat. Our skin reacts differently to greasy foods vs healthy nutritious ones. Your lips need a continuous intake of vitamins and minerals to stay soft and supple. Vitamins that are important for healthy lips and skin include Vitamin B and Vitamin E. Drinking plenty of water is also very important, because when we are dry we tend to lick our lips more.

-Use The Right Lip Moisturizer – Products containing petroleum jelly, beeswax, paraffin, and some sun protection are the most effective. These ingredients do the best job sealing our lips keeping moisture in. In extreme irritations, aloe vera is a great ingredient to look for as well. This is an effective product since it is also has the ability to heal sensitive sunburns. Many people overlook their lips when putting sunscreen on. The lips can burn just like any other part of our skin. Be on the lookout for ingredients like salicylic acid or menthol. They can end up drying your lips out even more.

Lip Enhancements

-Lipstick - Beauty experts say the trick is to select a cool toned lipstick with blue undertones that will counteract the yellowing of our teeth. This will make your teeth appear instantly whiter in contrast against the lipstick. Seemingly, instant teeth whitening. Lipstick tips include:

Choose a contrasting lip color.

Choose lipsticks with blue undertone shades, such as bright pinks and reds.

Experiment with bronzing.

Save the gold tones for your eyelids and avoid gold tones near your lips or teeth.

-Surgical – This type of enhancement includes the use of implants to make the lips fuller. Another is lip shortening, when the lip appears to be too long.

-Injections – The use of dermal fillers (like collagen, Restylen, or Juvederm) give the ability to change lip fullness on a temporary basis. Beware this technique is very dependent on the skill of the injector. These injections normally last from between 4 months and a year. Botox is also used to deaden the lip and help with a gummy smile.

Conclusion

Our lips are an important part of our smiles and should be treated and cared for properly too. A set of healthy, full lips will make our teeth stand out even more. Follow proper care and you will have something to smile about!.