Basics of Preventive Dentistry
Submitted on November 10, 2020
Skilled dentists like Dr. Ashwini Bhave don’t look forward to telling patients they need extractions, root canals, crowns or periodontal interventions. They prefer to help patients maintain ideal oral health with habits and lifestyle choices that preserve a full set of gleaming teeth, framed by firm pink gums. That is what makes the techniques of preventive dentistry so important.
Preventive dentistry starts with regular office visits — at least two each year for cleaning, polishing and evaluation. These appointments allow Dr. Bhave to spot minor issues that can become major complications if left untreated.
Conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay can begin quietly, without obvious symptoms. With most dental issues, the later you discover them, and the longer you take to address them, the risks and financial costs rise dramatically. An issue that can initially be easily managed by the regular purchase of dental floss may ultimately grow into the much larger expense of full mouth reconstruction.
X-rays are an important preventive tool your dentist uses as an early warning system. At Bay Area Dental Specialists, low-radiation digital imaging helps identify problems below the gum line, including the bone that anchors your teeth. It can also highlight problems between teeth, in areas that are hard to inspect.
In the office and at home, fluoride plays an important role in keeping your teeth healthy. During your visit, your hygienist will apply fluoride to your teeth to fortify them against decay. When you brush at home, ideally twice a day, a fluoride toothpaste is recommended to supplement this protection. For some patients, especially children, dental sealants may be advised to provide extra protection against cavities.
Gum Disease Prevention
Some patients are surprised that preventive dentistry puts a great deal of emphasis on the health of the gums. The health of your gums impacts the stability of your teeth. Signs of deteriorating gum health may be subtle at first. Continual plaque buildup on the surface of teeth forms tartar, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria. These microbes deepen gum pockets and begin to damage the bone and destabilize teeth.
This more serious phase is known as periodontitis. Symptoms include inflamed gums that seem to bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing. Healthy pink gums now seem red. As gaps appear between the tooth and gum tissue, the gums may recede. You may experience pain and sensitivity with your teeth, and even feel that one or more teeth is less securely anchored in your mouth.
At this point, not only are you risking tooth loss, but your overall health may be affected as well. Bacteria that thrive below the gum line can migrate to other areas of the body, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and even gastrointestinal problems.
To learn more about the benefits of preventive dentistry, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bhave at her San Jose office by calling or emailing Bay Area Dental Specialists today.