Preventive dentistry is the modern approach to reducing the amount of dental treatment required to maintain a healthy mouth and help keep your teeth for life.
Tooth loss primarily results from gum disease and decay. A proactive approach to the management of these causes therefore increases the opportunity for prevention.
Whilst it is the ideal way to manage the oral healthcare of children and young adults, it is the recommended approach for everyone - including people with false teeth who can benefit through the early identification of conditions like mouth cancer and denture stomatitis.
Through recommended treatment and a maintenance plan, the combined efforts of the dentist, hygienist and patient can help prevent the need for treatment and so avoid the historical pattern of fillings and extractions.
As a result of improved oral hygiene and fluoride, more people are keeping their own teeth into old age but in order to continue to maintain healthy teeth and gums, a regime of brushing and rinsing twice a day should be combined with interdental brushing – cleaning between the teeth.
The major cause of tooth decay and gum disease is plaque. The formation of plaque is continuous and its growth cannot be stopped. Whilst brushing controls plaque formation around the surfaces of your teeth, it does not reach between your teeth and that’s why interdental brushing once a day is so crucial.
Cleaning between your teeth is made possible by the use of the following:
- Dental floss
- Interdental brushes
- Single tuft toothbrushes
- Dental sticks
- Rubber tip stimulators
- Irrigation device
Consult your dentist and hygienist to learn more about the right method of interdental brushing for you.
Deep pits and grooves can be found on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. Such pits and grooves are termed ‘fissures’ and are usually so narrow that toothbrush bristles and streams of water are not able to clean them effectively. These form a favourable environment for bacteria to flourish, often resulting in tooth decay.
What can be done?
Fissure sealants can be applied to the teeth. Fissure sealants are special materials used by dentists to seal off pits and fissures from the oral environment. Sealing the tooth surface protects fissures from bacteria and fermentable foods like sugar and starches to prevent decay from starting deep within the fissures. Any tooth with pits and fissures can be treated, provided the surface to be filled is sound and has not been previously filled. The most commonly treated teeth are the molars and premolars.
How are sealants applied?
Sealants are applied easily and painlessly. No drilling is required. The tooth is properly cleaned, treated, dried, and the sealant applied. It then hardens to form a protective coating over the tooth.