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Preventive Dentistry

The focus of preventive dentistry is to maintain healthy teeth and gums, not to mention a confident and radiant smile. Therefore, preventive dental care is for both children and adults.

While the degree of work for achieving these outcomes can vary from one person to the next there are some consistent actionable items for preventive dental care. We have included a few of them on this page.

Let us first list a few of the more common preventive dental care procedures, many of which you can undertake yourself. They include but are not limited to:

• Proper nutrition and dietary habits
• Brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day
• Daily flossing
• Tooth cleaning and fluoride treatments
• Consistent dental check-ups
• Being educated on proper oral health
• Assessing risk for cavities
• Assessing risk for periodontal disease
• Establish and maintain proper oral habits
• Sealants

Sealants

Sealants are made of a composite or type of resin that is placed into the grooves of the teeth to “seal” them from saliva and bacteria that can cause a cavity to occur. They are typically placed in the grooves of the premolars and molars. It is these teeth that typically have the deepest grooves.

Food and sugar substrates when combined with bacteria in the mouth change the pH or acid balance in the mouth within 45 minutes of eating. This decrease in pH begins a slow acid “erosion” to the enamel which may result in a cavity. By sealing the grooves, the process of enamel demineralization is decreased significantly. A sealant is placed within a matter of minutes.

It is our standard of care to offer to place sealants on premolars and molars beginning with the appearance of the first and second molars around age 6 and 12 years of age (approximately). As is the case with most of our preventive dental care sealants are not limited to being placed on children’s teeth. Our office also provides the same service for all adults.

Making the Connection Between a Healthy Mouth & a Healthy Body

Bacteria and inflammation that are linked to periodontitis( gum disease) play a role in some systemic diseases or conditions. Diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making periodontal diseases more severe. People with diabetes often have gum disease. Diabetics are more likely to develop and have more severe periodontitis than those of nondiabetics. Some studies suggest that gum disease can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.

Several studies link chronic inflammation from periodontitis with the development of cardiovascular problems. Some evidence suggests that oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, artery blockages and stroke. The incidence of heart disease is about twice as high in people with gum disease. Studies indicate that the most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque may cause blood clots. When blood clots escape into the bloodstream, there is a relation to increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

People with periodontal disease (over one half of the adult population) have an infection that causes chronic inflammation of the gums. A recent study describes the association between heart disease and gum disease to be at least as strong as the linkage of heart disease to cholesterol, body weight, or smoking.

Periodontal Diseases

Periodontal disease is a chronic infection caused by bacteria and therefore, it is a major focus of preventive dental care. Periodontal disease begins when certain bacteria in plaque. Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on teeth and tissues in the mouth producing toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums. This causes inflammation if it is not removed daily.

Plaque that remains on teeth can irritate the gums, making them red, tender and likely to bleed. This condition is called gingivitis. Gingivitis can be reversed and gums kept healthy by removing plaque everyday with a good oral hygiene routine and by having your teeth professionally cleaned.

If gingivitis persists, it can lead to periodontitis, a chronic infection of the pockets around the teeth. The resulting inflammation, which may be painless, can damage the attachment of the gums and bone to the teeth. At this stage, treatment by a dentist is needed. If left untreated, teeth may eventually become loose, fall out or require removal by a dentist.

The mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Researchers have found that periodontitis is linked to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. Likewise, pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk for delivering pre-term of low birth weight babies.

Incidence of Periodontal Disease

Unlike many diseases that give us early warning signs, gum disease progresses silently, often without pain. It may develop slowly or progress quite rapidly. More than half of all people over age 18 have at least the early stage of periodontal disease.

After the age of 35, three out of four people are affected to some degree. It is disease that destroys the gum surrounding the teeth an also destroys the supporting bone that holds the teeth in place.

What can you do? Given the link between periodontitis and systemic health problems, prevention is an important step in maintaining overall health.

Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day. Clean between them with floss or another type of interdental cleaner once a day. An anti-microbial mouth rinse can be used as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.

Choose products with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. It is an important symbol of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness. It represents extensive clinical and laboratory research for the products upon which it appears. The ADA seal assures that the product is safe and does what it claims to do.

Proper nutrition and dietary habits. Being mindful of the foods you eat, particularly those with a high percentage of sugar can go a long way to starving off teeth and gum disease.

Schedule consistent dental check-ups. Professional cleanings are the only way to remove tartar (calculus) which traps plaque bacteria along the gum line.

Tell your dentist about changes in your overall health. Provide an updated history of any recent illnesses or chronic conditions, medication and tobacco use.

Pay particular attention to the teeth and gums. This is very important if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. The changing hormone levels can exaggerate some dental problems. Periodontal disease can increase the risk for preterm and low birth babies.

Signs of Periodontal Disease

  • Gums that bleed during brushing and flossing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • A change in the way that the teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of the partial dentures

Our talented and knowledgeable dental team can help you better understand this disease process and how you can prevent it and/or treat it. We can quickly and painlessly check and monitor the condition of the gums during your re-care appointment. Your examination may show signs of infection, such as bleeding or pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that are deeper than normal.

Our highly experienced dental team will suggest a course of treatment that will help you stop any further damage to the gums and bones. In addition we design a simple to follow home care regiment for your specific needs.

It’s time to put the shine and confidence back in your smile and life by taking the fear and guesswork out of preventive measures.
Schedule an appointment for you and your family today by contacting Dr. Tammy Korylko-Carny, DDS at 330-633-5002.