There has never been a more exciting time to be a dentist! Today’s capabilities in preventing dental disease are great and information about dental care is more available than ever. With sincere effort, most people can maintain their hard-earned dental health for decades, with their only dental needs resulting from wear-and-tear on previous treatment rather than new problems. A large part of the actual treatments that we do at Dental Leaders are a result of old problems. Our prevention program is designed to minimize new problems!
New medical studies have also highlighted a strong connection between chronic gum disease and heart disease; your future health may literally depend on the job you do every day with your brush and floss!
Following is a list of the care components that comprise an effective prevention program.
Good Home Care
There is nothing that a dentist can do that can equal the effect that effective daily hygiene will have on your oral health. Brushing and flossing properly will remove the plaque bacteria that cause cavities and the infectious process of gum disease. Daily home care is by far the most important component of dental health maintenance.
While that leaves the ball in your court, our job is to be instructive, educational, and motivational so that you receive maximum benefit from the 5-10 minutes per day that you should be dedicating to oral hygiene and prevention.
Routine Professional Care
The average healthy person requires two cleanings per year, along with routine examination and annual radiographs. People with lower levels of dental/gum health require more frequent cleanings. In fact, many patients come every six to ten weeks for re-care visits. An individual’s re-care schedule must be dictated by needs and never by an insurance plan.
Excellent Quality Dental Restorations
Dental restorations must be of sufficient quality in order to maintain good dental health. Rough edges (margins) and bulky contours can create plaque traps that enable bacteria to cause cavities and gum infections. Quality decision-making and laboratory materials and techniques allow the practice’s dental team to achieve precision and cleansibility in the work performed. This also accounts for the visual appeal of Dental Leaders' cosmetic work.
Control of parafunction and habits
The term parafunction refers to clenching, grinding, and bruxism. Bruxism is the term for fine movements under great force. Habits refers to chewing ice, cracking nuts, chewing pens, biting fingernails, etc.
Parafunction causes much damage to teeth in the form of wear, breakage, and cracks in the natural structure. It can also worsen gum disease, is the primary cause of gum recession and gum line notching of the teeth (abfractions), and causes the majority of facial pain syndromes (TMJ).
Habits are often the cause of chipped front teeth and broken or cracked back teeth.
Most habits are just that, and can be controlled by the patient when made aware.
Most parafunctions peak during the REM (rapid eye movement) phases of sleep, and are not under the ability of conscious control. During REM sleep, we are able to place more than five times (!) the amount of pressure on out teeth as we can during consciousness. At Dental Leaders we have a variety of nighttime appliances (guards, night guards, deprogrammers, NTIs) that are specifically designed to decrease wear and pressure on teeth. Most of these appliances also relax the masticatory muscles and relieve muscle-tension headaches and pain (TMJ).
Parafunctions and habits are often stress modulated; worsening during busy, hard, or emotional times. Owning and using an appliance often makes a huge difference in the comfort and sleep patterns of our patients.
Over the past sixty years, fluoride found in drinking water, the foods available to eat, and the toothpaste used for brushing have cut the prevalence of cavities tremendously. Fluoride, however, only protects the smooth surfaces of the teeth and not the biting areas. Dental sealants are a type of bonding that flows into the crevices and grooves of the biting surfaces of the back teeth to protect them from the accumulation of bacteria and food debris that can cause cavities. The American Dental Association recommends applying sealants to children's back teeth as soon as they erupt (starting at about 6.5 years old), with which Dental Leaders agrees. Sealants are also strongly recommended for adults who have deep grooves but have so far avoided cavities. Today there is no reason that a person with good habits, fluoride, and sealants should ever get a cavity. A small amount of prevention goes a long way.
Good Dietary Habits
Many people do not realize that there is a very real dietary component to preventing dental disease. Some people are more susceptible than others to cavities and gum infections, and the food can inadvertently play a role in feeding bacteria and accelerating those processes. In addition to treats, there is still a dental liability that goes along with eating any refined carbohydrates (sugars and starches). In fact, recent studies have shown that white bread and cookies and cakes can cause cavities as easily as pure sugars. When snacking between meals, it is important to vigorously rinse with water whenever brushing is not an option. Start the habit of taking a toothbrush to work or school. Everyone should brush at least twice daily and floss at least once.
Dr. Groh did two years of research at the National Institute of Dental Research at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C. His research clearly showed that the worst damage to tooth structure occurs in the first fifteen minutes after eating. Therefore, that quick water rinse is very important.
There is also some compelling evidence that abrasive foods such as raw celery, raw carrots, and even chewing gum, can remove some plaque bacteria that build up between brushing.
Finally, there are some foods that fight cavities—sharp cheeses are especially good at neutralizing bacterial products that cause cavities, as well as real licorice. Such foods should not be depended on for hygiene purposes, but they do serve as a hint for cautious snacking.