Preventative dentistry is important throughout your life, no matter your age. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist and hygienist, you can help keep your smile bright and healthy for many years to come. Here are a few simple ways that you can prevent the build-up of plaque and cavities:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush the top surface of your tongue; this will remove any extra plaque-causing food particles, and help keep your breath fresh!
- Flossing at least once a day and rinse with a mouthwash to help kill bacteria (freshens your breath too).
- Eat a balanced diet, and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your smile healthy.
- Schedule regular checkups with your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
- Ask about dental sealants, especially for children and young adults. These are protective plastic coatings that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.
- If you play sports, be sure to ask about special mouth guards designed to protect your smile.
If it’s been six months since your last dental checkup, then it’s time to call us at 512-343-2758 and schedule your next appointment. Prevention is powerful!
Frequently Asked Questions about Preventative Dentistry
Why do I need to have my teeth professionally cleaned so often?
A professional dental cleaning is necessary because there are some important elements of oral hygiene that can’t be accomplished effectively at home. The bacteria that live in your mouth are responsible for gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath. The hygienist will remove and disrupt the bacteria and plaque attached to your teeth below the gum line, remove hard deposits called tarter or calculus, and remove food stains from your teeth that brushing alone won’t resolve.
How often do I need Xrays?
Our office uses the latest low-power digital x-rays technology, and we take only the minimum x-rays necessary to effectively diagnose your oral health. There are many types of dental x-rays and they each have different diagnostic purposes. A panoramic x-ray is excellent for making sure all of the teeth are in place in growing children, looking at wisdom teeth and checking the upper and lower jaws for fractures or tumors. A “periapical” x-ray is used to show the dentist the entire tooth including the root and check for cavities, infections, and root fractures. “Bitewing” x-rays show only the portion of the tooth in your mouth and are used to check for cavities between the teeth and the loss of supporting bone from periodontal disease. Other images known as Cone Beam CT and Cephalometric x-rays are taken for planning implants and orthodontics.
Which x-rays you need, and how often they are taken is determined on an individual basis. Factors such as your age, the health of your mouth, your risk of cavities and gum disease and your current dental work determine what is needed. During your dental cleaning appointment we will recommend any necessary x-rays and discuss the reasons with you to ensure you are fully informed.
Everyone’s risk of developing cavities is different. Preventing cavities is really a balancing act of managing the risk factors and increasing prevention. A fluoride treatment after your dental hygiene visit is a highly effective & economical way to reduce your risk of getting new cavities. When you are in our office we will help determine whether the application of fluoride and which form is appropriate to combat your risk factors.
There are 3 effective ways to apply fluoride:
- Foam trays- applied in the office for 1 minute (usually for children).
- Fluoride Varnish- applied in the office. This remains in place for several hours to be most effective.
- “At home” brush-on gel- This is a daily application with your toothbrush after completing the brushing/flossing routine.
Saliva plays a vital role in keeping your mouth healthy. It rinses away food and other debris as well as neutralizes acids. It is also an important part of your immune system. However, not having enough saliva can contribute to extensive tooth decay and gum inflammation. If you feel that you have symptoms of dry mouth please speak to us about it. There are a number of over-the-counter oral moisturizers available. In severely dry mouth cases prescription medications may be a benefit to help stimulate salivary flow.
Nightguards can be helpful preventative dentistry appliances to slow or prevent tooth wear. However, it is important to determine the cause of the wear. The following can be causes of tooth wear:
- Clenching/grinding (day or night time)
- Abrasive toothpastes and overly vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush
- Acid erosion
If it is determined that you would benefit from using a Nightguard then 2 appointments are scheduled to impress and fit for either a maxillary or mandibular appliance. If it is determined that wear is from toothpaste/over scrubbing then it may be necessary to adjust brushing technique or the type of toothpaste used. Dr. Rugeley and his staff will make the necessary recommendations. If it is determined that the cause is acid erosion then it may be necessary to adjust your diet or consider acid controlling medications. If OTC meds are insufficient then a medical consultation is recommended.
The custom mouthguard is a device worn to protect their teeth during athletics. There are many advantages to having a mouthguard custom-made by a dentist. These include the following:
- Precise fit (more comfortable)
- Easier to breath (less bulky)
- Avoid joint, muscle or teeth problems
At your appointment, impressions of your teeth will be taken so that we can create a model of your teeth. This model is then used to custom form the mouthguard material. At a separate appointment the mouthguard is fitted to your teeth and adjusted so that your other teeth can rest comfortably against it.
Ask Dr. Rugeley about preventative dentistry treatment options at your next visit.