An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment – or, if you prefer your slogans to come in real-world terms, then one dollar spent on prevention can save you up to $50 in future dental treatments.
In the field of dentistry, preventive care encompasses both routine check-ups and deep cleanings (usually done every six months) as well as daily hygiene and dietary practices meant to strengthen and protect your teeth. While the possibility of dental emergencies can never truly disappear, prevention will be the best way to make them as unlikely as possible.
Preventing Abscesses and Infections
A dental abscess is a little pocket of pus that builds up inside or beneath the tooth, around the gums, or even close to the bone that holds your teeth together. Dental abscesses are exceedingly painful and can result in hard-to-treat infections, which is why they are often treated as dental emergencies.
However, the kind of infection that results in a tooth abscess rarely appears overnight. This is how regular checkups can help you prevent them:
- During a deep cleaning section, your family dentist or dental hygienist will get rid of the buildup and plaque that is accumulating between your teeth or gum folds. In turn, this will protect you from gingivitis and periodontitis – that is, from your gums chronically receding as bacteria conquer larger parts of your mouth. Protecting your gums lowers the chances of bacteria every reaching those deep areas beneath your roots where abscesses form.
- Preventive check-ups can usually identify those corners where you are not flossing or brushing properly. In turn, this will be an opportunity to modify your technique.
- Sometimes, abscesses and infections become more prevalent because of problems in tooth placement, such as gaps between the teeth. A thorough preventive care routine will identify and pay special attention to these areas.
- Tiny cracks, erosion, or developing cavities can all provide a chance for infections to set in. However, your dentist can fix them easily with some sealant.
Naturally, the hard work performed inside the dental office will count for more if accompanied by a thorough regular oral hygiene routine. This is yet another way in which your dentist will be happy to guide you!
Preventing Tooth Loss and Broken Teeth
Sometimes, a single well-placed blow to the head can knock out a couple of teeth immediately. However, prevention can make your teeth sturdier and more resilient. In addition, if your mouth is healthy and well-cared for, you will have a better chance of saving or re-attaching the tooth instead of needing implants.
The following factors all play a role here:
By building a close relationship with your family dentist, he or she will be in a better position to act in case of any traumatic injury. Whatever happens, your chances of a good outcome will be much better if you are able to access quick care from a dentist who knows you and your personal history.
In addition, attending your regular checkups will also increase your chance of any underlying problem being detected in time: for example, traumatic blows often don’t knock out the tooth immediately. Instead, they cause an internal crack that is easy to miss – at least until pain, sensitivity, or a chip happens a few weeks later.
Diet and daily care
In general, the best diet for teeth is one that is low in sugar and acidic foods, and high in calcium and protein. The first two can slowly contribute to teeth decay and erosion – which could cost you a canine or two if you get a traumatic injury.
On the other hand, a balanced and healthy diet will help you ensure that your teeth, gums, and bones are all able to resist a blow better. This includes:
- Calcium, which will protect your teeth and bone density directly
- Vitamin D, which is fundamental for affixing the calcium into your bones as you age.
- Vitamin C plays a fundamental role in collagen production and gum health
- Protein provides the building blocks for your body to strengthen and repair itself
Most family dentists are now acutely aware of the effect that your daily habits have on their work. This includes your daily oral hygiene habits (washing, brushing, and flossing) as well as any other common-sense approaches that can lower your chances of tooth loss.
- If you practice any contact sports, wear mouth guards or a helmet.
- Avoid smoking and harsh liquor, which contribute to dental erosion
- An overall active and healthy lifestyle will prevent diabetes and heart disease, which damages your bones and gums.
Dentists and doctors have always stressed the importance of prevention, but at last, families and the industry seem to be finally listening. Studies have now shown a direct correlation between childhood care and the likelihood of decayed, missing, or filled teeth later in life. Insurance companies and dental savings plans are making preventive dental care more affordable than ever – but it will be up to you to pick up the phone and take control of your future health!