Tooth decay may seem unavoidable, but there are many things that can be done to prevent it. Read on to learn about the long-term effects of tooth decay. It is extremely important to make a conscious effort on a day-to-day basis to maintain good oral health. When the oral cavity as a whole is healthy,…
How Often Should You Visit a Preventive Dentist?
According to our preventive dentist and the American Dental Association, the answer to that question is every six months for most people. That is the maximum amount of time you should have between dental visits since it ensures your dentist can detect any developing problems before they cause significant damage to the structures inside your mouth.
A preventive dentist is often a general dentist who spends most of their time performing preventative treatments that keep their patients’ teeth and gums healthy like routine checkups and teeth cleanings. These dentists also perform restorative and cosmetic treatments as needed to ensure their patients are happy with how their teeth and gums look, plus they have proper function of their teeth.
People with chronic oral issues like periodontal disease might have to visit a dentist more frequently to keep their mouths healthy. Your dentist will inform you if additional visits are needed based on factors like the current state of your oral health.
Getting preventative treatments from a preventive dentist
Let us take a look at some of the treatments patients should expect during routine appointments with preventive dentists:
1. Routine examinations
A routine examination is typically the first thing that goes on during a dental checkup. It involves the dentist visually inspecting the patient’s mouth, face, and neck looking for signs of developing problems. The dentist might also use a probe to check for signs of gum disease by measuring the patient’s gum pockets.
Signs of tooth decay and gum disease are typically the main focus of these examinations, but preventive dentists also search for other problems like bite issues and oral cancer. Dentists also use routine examinations to talk to their patients about things that have happened that might affect their dental health in the future. Diagnostics like X-rays might be ordered during this part of the appointment.
2. Teeth cleaning
Once the dentist is done examining the patient’s mouth, the next phase of the appointment involves performing the teeth cleaning procedure, which requires using a scaler and ultrasonic tools to remove tartar deposits on teeth. Tartar is hardened plaque that a brush or floss cannot remove. It forms after plaque has been left on teeth for more than a day.
Tartar gives oral bacteria a safe place to attack teeth and gum structures from. Teeth cleanings are needed to remove these deposits. Tartar also makes teeth appear yellow, ruining their appearance.
Teeth cleanings get rid of tartar deposits, protecting patients against gum disease and tooth decay. The procedure also helps to remove surface stains on teeth, improving their appearance.
3. Fluoride treatments
Preventive dentists often perform fluoride treatments during routine appointments. The procedure only takes a few minutes to complete but protects teeth against decay for up to six months. It involves biting down on a mouth tray that has been filled with a fluoride gel or solution. It is often recommended for patients who are prone to tooth decay.
4. Dental sealants
Dental sealants are another popular preventative dental treatment that protects teeth from decay. The procedure is done using composite resins that are made from mixtures of plastic and glass. The liquid resin is coated on the biting surface of teeth and hardened with ultraviolet light. It forms an obstacle that blocks the acids made by oral bacteria from making direct contact with the tooth’s biting surface, inhibiting decay.
Sealants can protect teeth from decay for a few years. They are typically most effective during the first year, and top-up treatments can be completed as needed. Dentists typically recommended sealants for children’s molars since they are the hardest set of teeth to clean and many children might not yet have good brushing habits.
Part of a dentist’s job is to educate patients about the proper ways to brush and floss their teeth. The American Dental Association advocates brushing at least twice daily. Brushing after every meal is optimal but not always necessary for those who are not prone to tooth decay or gum disease.
The most important time to brush is right before going to bed to starve oral bacteria of the sugar they need to damage teeth as you sleep. Teeth are particularly susceptible to decay during sleep since saliva production is reduced. Dentists also recommend flossing once a day and using an antibacterial mouth rinse.
6. Restorative treatments
Many restorative treatments performed by dentists also have preventative benefits. For example, filling up a cavity with composite resin is a restorative treatment, but it also prevents the cavity from expanding until more serious treatments like crowns or root canals are needed. These treatments can be performed during routine appointments if necessary.
We help keep your mouth healthier
Routine dental checkups lead to lower dental bills in the long run and spare you the agony issues like tooth decay can cause. How long has it been since your last routine checkup? Call or stop by our Tacoma clinic to set up an appointment with our dentist.
Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Preventative Dental Care in Tacoma, WA.
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