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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.

With the economy stagnating, many people fore go dental examinations and professional cleanings to save money. The truth is it will cost you more in time, money, and

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS

Routine Dental Visits Can Save You Money!

discomfort in the long run. Preventive medicine, or rather preventive dentistry is better for our health, and finances .

What Can Happen Without Preventive Dentistry?

If you skip regular preventive dental visits you are very likely to be looking at a future of dental issues (with added expense) which can include tooth decay, tooth loss, periodontal disease, and even root canal therapy.

-Periodontal Disease – In its earliest stages, periodontal disease is curable. This stage is called gingivitis. After periodontal disease progresses to an advanced stage (called periodontitis), it is only possible to manage the symptoms and keep it from progressing further. Regular dental care will help you prevent gingivitis from occurring so that you will not have to deal with periodontal disease progressing and causing a number of more costly procedures to manage it. Periodontal disease is very preventable with regular dental care. This is why regular dental care can save you money over the long haul. It is far cheaper, and less risky to your overall health to prevent periodontal disease than to treat it.

-Tooth Decay/Root Canal Therapy – Tooth decay like periodontal disease is far easier to manage when diagnosed at the beginning stages. Once tooth decay progresses deep into the underlying layers of a tooth, it becomes much more difficult and costly to treat. If the tooth decay progresses far enough it will enter the pulp chamber and essentially create a dental infection inside the tooth. The only way to save the tooth at this point is to perform root canal therapy.

-Tooth Loss – Not receiving regular dental care can lead to tooth loss. Replacing lost teeth with dental implants, bridges, or even dentures can be quite costly. Maintaining the teeth we have is far less costly than having them replaced by your dentist. Tooth loss also makes it difficult to chew healthy foods, and may make you opt for predominantly soft, high carb, low nutrition foods.

Average Cost of Dental Care

National Average for a routine dental visit – $80

National Average for a one surface dental filling – $135

National Average for a Molar Root Canal Therapy – $675

National Average for a PFM (porcelain fused to metal) Crown – $850

Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDSAs you can see it is far cheaper to visit the dentist every 6 months than to sporadically visit waiting for issues to arise. Visiting the dentist is not just about having a pretty smile, it is about maintaining both oral and systemic health. People who do not make brushing and flossing part of their daily routine end up in tons of pain later in life, have major dental work that needs to be done, and compromised health. Imagine what regular dentist visits could have done earlier on,to save them money, time, and discomfort.

A professional dental cleaning is a must because it is the only way to effectively remove tartar. Even if you brush and floss regularly, it is not enough. Tartar is an irritant , causes periodontal disease progression, is cosmetically unappealing, tartar also contains bacteria. Preventive dental care can significantly decrease the need for a mouthful of dental work. That can easily add up to thousands saved in the long run.

Conclusion

Perhaps one of the most important reasons to invest in regular dental exams and cleanings is that it has a positive impact on your overall health. Research has shown that there is a correlation between periodontal disease and systemic disease. These include heart disease, diabetes, and alzheimer’s disease. When the periodontal disease is present you are more likely to have other systemic effects develop over time.

For example, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease can have a domino effect on your health. The bacteria caused by periodontal disease can enter into your bloodstream and attach to your heart’s blood vessels, causing dangerous blood clots. Another scenario is, that the plaque buildup caused by periodontal disease can cause the heart’s blood vessels to swell.

Our health habits need to become a routine part of our lives. The cumulative effect of these habits increases the quality of our lives and keeps us healthy. Regular dental visits just like regular medical visits are an investment in our current and future health. Pass up the chances now and you will pay for it decades from now.