Dr. Matthew Harrison

While taking good care of your teeth and gums at home is essential, an effective oral health care routine also involves visiting your dentist for regularly scheduled professional cleanings and examinations. Aside from the many oral and overall health benefits this preventive care can provide, they can also detect and diagnose problems early, saving you time and money.

What Does Preventive Care Include? 

There are two fundamental ways to maintain lasting oral health. Daily oral hygiene helps to prevent common problems, while regular dental visits help us detect problems early so we can keep them from advancing.  Preventive dental care includes:

  • Professional Dental Cleanings & Examinations
  • Patient Education & Respectful Communication
  • Digital X-Rays, Intraoral Cameras & Dental Lasers
  • Oral Cancer Screenings
  • Deep Cleanings for Gum Disease Treatment
  • Emergency Dental Care
  • Dental Sedation
  • And More!

Who Benefits from Preventive Dentistry?

Every infant, child, teen, and adult can benefit from preventive care. While it’s true that dental and oral health issues do not discriminate against age, neither does prevention! From newborns to mature adults approaching their golden years, anyone can benefit from a beautiful smile built on a foundation of healthy gums.

No matter the severity of your current oral health issues, it’s never too late to exercise prevention. However, preventive measures for dental health should begin during childhood, and can do so as early as birth!

Just because your baby might not yet have any teeth doesn’t mean an oral health routine should be ignored. Beautiful and long-lasting smiles rely on healthy gums, so cleaning your infant’s mouth with a damp, clean cloth every morning and night, as well as after feedings, is essential until their first tooth emerges. Once their teeth erupt, contact us to schedule their first dental visit no later than their first birthday.

Prevention for Children and Teens  

Children often look up to their parents, guardians, or older siblings for social cues as well as how to take care of themselves. You can help set the example for proper oral hygiene at home and in-between dental visits.

A professional dentist will provide first visits for young children, helping them adjust and become comfortable in the dental environment. Early orthodontic treatment for correcting bite and alignment issues, sealants for cavity protection, and body-safe fillings for repairing areas of decay are also offered and tailored for children’s smiles.

For teen patients, regularly-scheduled oral health appointments are just as crucial for helping keep their teeth, gums, and jaws healthy. During this stage of life, the influx of hormone levels can lead to different issues such as bad breath and gingivitis. Not only can we monitor your teen’s smile, but we also help counsel them on a healthier lifestyle and proper eating habits.

Why Prevention Matters 

Did you know that one of the most important reasons for good oral hygiene and professional prevention is the beneficial impacts they can have on your overall health? Continue reading below to find out more!

Healthy teeth and Gums: Although genetics play an influential role in your likelihood to develop cavities, preventative dental care and at-home hygiene help keep your teeth free of decay and gums free of infection and disease.

Disease Detection: Your dentist can detect a lot more than just cavities from examining your mouth and surrounding facial structures.

Seven issues that can be detected with digital x-rays, intraoral cameras, and a thorough examination are:

  1. Vitamin Deficiencies
  2. Signs of Acid Reflux Disease
  3. Tooth Clenching and Grinding (Bruxism)
  4. TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorders)
  5. Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
  6. Osteoporosis
  7. Oral Cancers and Cysts

Oral-Systemic prevention: Oral infections and overall health issues often manifest themselves in your mouth, which can lead to serious concerns. For example, gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is a common inflammation of the gums. If not treated, it can develop into periodontitis, the more advanced and damaging infection that often results in tooth loss.

Oral infections that start in your mouth have even been linked to some of the following seven conditions:

  1. Heart Disease & Clogged Arteries
  2. Stroke
  3. Diabetes complications
  4. Respiratory issues
  5. Alzheimer’s Disease
  6. Premature births & low birthrates in newborns
  7. Arthritis

Catching oral health concerns early helps preserve more of your natural teeth and gums. You can also reduce the pain, discomfort, and complications of oral diseases, significantly improving your overall quality of life.  

How Often Should I Visit the Dentist?

It’s recommended by the American Dental Association, as well as our team, that you schedule your oral health visits every six months. These bi-annual check-ups allow us to detect, diagnose, and treat your smile, helping you reduce your risk of more severe complications and the need for more complex treatments in the future.

What Can I Expect from My Dental Exam?

A seasoned dental professional will understand how care can be intimidating, especially in a new environment. Communication is vital, so be sure to voice your concerns, questions, and goals about your treatment. The first step will be a series of digital x-rays of your teeth, gums, jaw, as well as your face and neck to ensure no underlying issues have been overlooked. Your dentists will also evaluate your current oral and medical health history to gain a full understanding of the background and overall wellness.  

What Will My Dental Exam Involve?

During your routine examination, intraoral cameras are used to educate you on our finding in real time and thoroughly check:

Teeth – looking for signs of decay, wear, damage, and abscesses.

Gums – for any signs of infection or disease. This includes detecting traces of inflammation, receding gums, sores, and cysts. Dentists use innovative tools for measuring gum-tissue pockets that could be forming due to periodontal disease.

Tooth Roots & Jawbone Heath – to gain full knowledge of the current state of your jawbone strength and volume just below the gumline. Digital x-ray technology provides precise images of your tooth roots, nerves, and bones.

Jawbone Joints & Chewing Capabilities – In addition to examining teeth and gums, your dentist will also take a detailed look at jaw placement when your teeth meet and how your jaw muscles move as you chew, speak, and smile.   

Neck – checking for swollen lymph nodes can reveal possible cysts, diseases, and signs of cancer.  Early detection and immediate action can get you back to optimal health once more.

Smile Aesthetics- is evaluated for more obvious clues of possible issues in your smile. Dental staining, chips, cracks, and wear can indicate some things that need further examination.

What if There is a Problem?

Once an issue is detected, the next step is to determine the most effective course of action for your needs. Your treatment for achieving a healthier smile will depend on the type of complication and the level of severity.

Often, professional cleanings and more a positive lifestyle can be just what you need to rectify the situation. However, when the issue involves active gum disease or tooth loss, your situation will require a more long-term solution. Deep cleanings and dental lasers are used for eliminating gum disease, or dental implants, a bridge, or dentures to restore lost teeth.

Why Do I Need a Dental Cleaning Every Six Months?

Dental cleanings performed by a professional are vital for removing buildup, or plaque, from the surfaces of your teeth. If left unaddressed, this sticky-white film develops into tartar, which cannot be removed by regular brushing and flossing. Tartar is hardened plaque that carries acids that begin to eat away at your enamel, causing cavities and decay.

Without dental cleanings, not only are you at a higher risk for developing cavities, plaque can accumulate to a degree that inflames and irritates your gums as it collects underneath and along the gum line. This gum inflammation is the earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis.  

When caught in its beginning stages, gum disease is reversible. If left to progress, it develops into periodontitis, the most harmful and advanced form of periodontal disease. To properly treat serious phases of gum disease, you may need an extensive deep cleanings and possible surgery.

Do I Still Need to Schedule Dental Cleanings if I Brush and Floss Every day?

Absolutely! While it’s great that you’re brushing and flossing every day, at-home oral hygiene can’t always reach the areas that need attention. Professional dentists use special tools to remove stubborn plaque buildup and tartar, significantly increasing your chances of maintaining a beautiful, healthy smile.

How Can I Protect My Smile Between Dental Visits? 

Here are seven helpful tips from our experts that you can do every day to improve your smile:

  1. Brush twice daily
  2. Replace your toothbrush every three months
  3. Floss after every meal once a day
  4. Drink plenty of water
  5. Limit alcohol & quit smoking
  6. Choose a vitamin and mineral-rich diet
  7. Visit your dentist every six months for professional care

While a healthy smile is not achieved magically overnight, that doesn’t mean taking care of your smile should fall by the wayside. No matter the current issues or frustrations you’re experiencing regarding your oral health, your dental professional can provide you the advice and tools you need to achieve strong teeth and healthy gums.