Preventive dentistry is your foundation for a healthy smile. With regular cleanings and exams, small dental issues can be caught before they turn into large and costly problems. Preventive dental care along with a diligent at-home brushing and flossing routine can help prevent dental issues all together. It’s these small investments in your oral hygiene that lead to a beautiful, healthy smile.
Preventive dental care is a field of dentistry that prioritizes the prevention of serious oral health issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer through early detection and preventative treatments. X-rays and checkups are used to screen for oral health problems early on before they become more serious.
Dental cleanings, dental sealants, and fluoride treatments are all preventive measures that reduce your risk of developing cavities and other oral health problems. Prevention can save you a lot of time and money on more invasive procedures down the line that could be avoided. Preserving the health of your natural teeth is important because losing teeth increases your risk of losing more teeth and causes irreversible bone loss.
Dental plaque is made up of more than 300 different types of bacteria.
Every dental appointment begins with a thorough cleaning from your dentist or dental hygienist. They will clean away plaque, tartar and bacteria, buff and polish your teeth, and floss your teeth to ensure that your smile looks bright and beautiful.
If you haven’t had x-rays recently, or if your dentist suspects that there may be hidden issues with your teeth, they may recommend that x-rays be taken. These images help our team see potential issues hiding below the gumline and within teeth.
After your teeth are cleaned and x-rays have been taken, your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth for any signs of oral health issues, like cavities, gum disease, and abnormalities of the tissues. X-rays will also be examined to ensure that every potential issue has been detected.
During your exam, your dentist will discuss with you the state of your oral health and any potential problems that they see. At this time, a treatment plan is developed. Your doctor will provide you with recommendations to resolve the issues and discuss the best treatment options for your lifestyle and budget.
If you need a follow-up appointment for a simple filling, more complex restorative work, or a cosmetic treatment, we can schedule your next appointment before you leave our office. We also recommend that you schedule your next cleaning in 6 months to ensure your smile stays bright and beautiful.
Teeth cleanings are essential for maintaining a healthy mouth. Seeing an oral hygienist and a dentist every six months ensures that minor stains, plaque, and bacteria can be removed from your teeth, and that your smile remains healthy and strong.
Good at-home oral hygiene is also important. Make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes using fluoride-based toothpaste, and floss once per day to get rid of food particles, plaque, and bacteria that can’t be removed with brushing alone.
Fluoride treatments can be applied to the teeth after any teeth cleaning. Your dentist will apply a layer of fluoride-rich gel or paste directly to your teeth, and leave it in place for several minutes. Then, it will be rinsed away.
After treatment, the fluoride will attract minerals like calcium and phosphates to your teeth, strengthening and “remineralizing” them. This, in turn, helps prevent the formation of cavities.
Dental sealants are a great way to fight back against cavities, and can be used on patients of all ages. Sealants are made up of a layer of liquid dental resin, which your dentist will apply directly to the rear teeth. Usually, sealants are only used on the rear teeth because their deep crevices are more prone to cavities.
This resin is hardened using a UV light, creating a strong, transparent barrier. This blocks food debris, acid, and bacteria from contact with your enamel. A strong dental sealant can prevent the formation of cavities for up to 10 years.
Periodontal care is an essential part of preventive dentistry for patients who have gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is known as “gingivitis,” and it can be reversed with specialized deep cleanings and proper at-home oral hygiene. It’s important to see your dentist for regular checkups so they can monitor your oral health and ensure gingivitis is at bay.
Patients with more advanced cases of gum disease can never fully eradicate the disease, although it can be maintained with more frequent, deep cleanings. Routine periodontal maintenance cleanings are typically scheduled every 3 months and can halt the progression of the disease, keeping their oral health under control.
Oral cancer screenings are an essential part of preventive care. Oral cancer is often hard to detect until it spreads more widely and becomes more serious. However, your dentist can detect signs early simply by performing an oral exam at your biannual dental appointments.
Your dentist will examine your mouth, gums, and oral tissues. They will look for discolored patches, lumps, growths, and other such abnormalities. In the rare case that an issue is found, a biopsy can be taken and sent to a specialist for further analysis, or your dentist will refer you to a specialist directly. Consistent dental visits allow your dentist to become familiar with your oral health, which in turn, allows them to more easily notice when there may be something wrong.
Regular flossing allows you to clean an additional 40% of your tooth surface.
You need to brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. While brushing, hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gums, and use small, circular strokes to clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. You should spend about 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth.
In addition, remember to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every 3-4 months, and to use an ADA-approved toothpaste with fluoride.
First, unroll about 18-24 inches of floss. Wind most of the floss around the index or middle finger of one of your hands. Then, wind the last few inches around the index or middle finger of your opposite hand.
Use your thumbs to pinch a 1-inch section of floss between your fingers. Gently move this section of floss between your teeth with a rocking motion. When the floss reaches your gumline, hug the floss against one of your teeth to create a “c” shape and move it up and down to dislodge plaque and bacteria. Do the same motion against the adjacent tooth to clear below both sides of the gum.
Next, gently remove the floss from between your teeth. Wind a new 1-inch section of floss between your fingers, move to the next tooth, and repeat.
Prophylactic cleanings are required for all patients. They are the regular cleanings you get every 6 months at your dental appointments. During most cleanings, your dentist or dental hygienist will remove plaque, tartar and bacteria from your teeth, buff and polish them, and then floss your teeth to remove any residual debris.
Periodontal cleanings are different. They’re only needed if you have periodontal or gum disease. This process, also known as a “deep cleaning” is done in two appointments, usually with half of your mouth cleaned at each appointment. Your dentist will scrape away plaque and tartar from between your teeth and gums, and smooth the roots of your teeth to eliminate pockets that trap bacteria. Unless you have gum disease, you won’t need a periodontal cleaning.
Most dental insurance policies will cover at least a portion of basic preventive care, and usually 100% is covered. Preventive care treatments include prophylactic teeth cleanings every 6 month, any necessary x-rays (usually once a year), and an annual or biannual dental exam performed by your dentist. For children, dental insurance policies may also cover the cost of optional preventive treatments, like dental sealants and fluoride treatments.
However, insurance policies do differ and it’s up to the patient to understand their coverage. Make sure you consult with your provider so you know exactly what’s covered and what will likely be out-of-pocket.
The ADA recommends that you get a dental cleaning and checkup every 6 months unless otherwise advised by your dentist. Some people who are at high-risk for developing cavities may need to return every 3-4 months.
If you are experiencing symptoms of an oral health issue, damage to your teeth, or symptoms of an infection, you should go to the dentist right away. Otherwise, regular dental visits should occur twice a year to remove plaque and tartar buildup, reduce your risk of oral health issues, and detect tooth decay and gum disease in the early stages.
Prevention ultimately preserves the health of your teeth, reducing your risk of developing serious oral health problems that could result in the loss of your teeth. Prevention, then, reduces your risk of all associated consequences of losing your teeth, such as bone loss, shifting teeth, changes in your facial structure, and change to your bite.
Prevention is much better than the cure, and a lot cheaper, too. Once you develop tooth decay, leaving it untreated will result in a tooth infection and damage to your dental pulp. If you’re lucky, you can get away with a root canal, which requires multiple appointments and can cost upwards of $1000. Sometimes the tooth cannot be salvaged and would need to be extracted.
You need to replace missing teeth to prevent long-term issues such as difficulty chewing, speaking, and facial sagging. Factoring in the cost of a tooth replacement makes extraction much more expensive than taking care of your teeth in the first place.
When it comes to brushing your teeth, the best type of toothbrush is one that you use regularly and properly. Brushing for the recommended 2 minutes twice a day is the most important factor in removing food particles and plaque.
However, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. You should avoid hard bristles and only use soft-bristled toothbrushes. Hard-bristles are too abrasive and can cause damage to your enamel and gums. A small head toothbrush is also more effective at getting into hard-to-reach areas of the mouth such as the rear molars.
When it comes to choosing between manual and electric, this is up to personal preference. As long as you brush properly at a 45-degree angle to remove plaque from around the gum line and for the recommended amount of time, manual toothbrushes can be just as useful.
However, electric toothbrushes make complying with brushing easier and less of a chore, since it does all the work for you. Rotating and oscillating electric toothbrushes are also more effective at removing plaque.
There are different kinds of X-rays – some are taken routinely and others are taken to look for a presented problem. Nowadays, we take routine X-rays about once every 3 years. This helps us paint a full picture of your oral health because it reveals what’s going on inside of the teeth, gums, and jaw.
We can detect tooth infections, bone loss, gum disease, and impacted wisdom teeth. If you are experiencing symptoms of an oral health problem or from an injury, we may take X-rays to rule out the possibility of tooth decay, gum disease, or an infection.
Shannon is the best and friendliest hygienist I've ever been to. She is very attentive making sure you are comfortable and she does an amazing job. The dental work I've had here has also been great and pain-free. I highly recommend Woburn Dental Associates!
This practice is the best dental office I have ever been to, and I don’t say that lightly. I hadn’t gone to the dentist in a long time and had a lot of work to be done. They were welcoming and kind in a way that made me want to come back (yes, to the dentist!!). They won’t shame you and will make you as comfortable as possible in their care. Every single staff person is outstanding and friendly. I can’t recommend Woburn Dental Associates enough.
Location was nice. People were friendly and cordial. The dentist really cared about my comfort and made sure to check up on me during my cleaning, and asked me multiple times if I needed a break — first time that’s ever happened for me. Highly recommend.
Over 90% of American adults have had a cavity at some point in their lives.