Preventative dentistry focuses on the preservation of healthy teeth and gums and the prevention of dental caries (cavities) and oral disease. Preventive dentistry also uses regular check-ups to discover any oral disease and treat it at its very early stages.
Dr. Curotto and his staff of hygienists always look for early signs of periodontal disease, dental decay, and other changes in the soft tissue of the mouth that could lead to more serious issues such as teeth loss or oral cancer.
But preventative dentistry is not just the job of Dr. Curotto and his assistants. You have a major role to perform your own preventive dentistry care. Your own at-home daily dental routine (brushing, flossing, etc.) combined with regular checkups and chair-side dental cleanings and procedures gives you the unbeatable combination for best dental health.
Here are some preventative dentistry strategies recommended by Dr. Curotto:
- At-home oral hygiene. The most important prevention technique is brushing and flossing at least twice a day (or after every meal) to remove dental plaque, a film-like coating that forms on your teeth. If not removed, plaque can build up and produce dental tartar, a hardened, sticky substance with acid-producing bacteria that cause tooth decay and lead to gum disease.
- Fluoride use. Fluoride strengthens teeth and prevents tooth decay. Fluoride treatments are provided in dental offices, and dentists recommend using fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses at home. Public water fluoridation – ranked as one of the 20th century’s 10 great public health achievements – provides a major source of fluoride.
- Diet. A balanced diet is a dental health essential. Foods with sugars and carbohydrates feed the bacteria that produce dental plaque, while calcium-poor diets increase your chances of developing gum (periodontal) disease and jaw deterioration.
- Regular dental visits. Since most dental conditions are painless at first, if you don’t regularly visit your dentist, you may not be aware of dental problems until they cause significant damage. For best results, schedule regular dental check-ups every six months, more often if you’re at higher risk for oral diseases. Your dentist should also perform oral cancer screenings to check for signs of abnormal tissues. Especially for children, checking oral growth and development (including an assessment for caries development) should be part of dental evaluations.
- Dental cleanings and screenings. A dental cleaning (prophylaxis) is recommended every six months to remove dental plaque and stains you’re unable to remove yourself, as well as to check for signs of tooth decay.
- X-rays. X-rays enable dentists to look for signs of dental problems that are not visible to the naked eye, such as cavities between teeth and problems below the gum line.
- Mouth guards. Mouth guards – particularly a custom-made mouth guard prescribed by your dentist to provide a better fit – can be worn during sports activities to protect against broken teeth. Mouth guards also are used to treat teeth grinding (bruxism), which can wear down teeth and contribute to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
- Avoid smoking and drinking. Smoking, chewing tobacco and alcohol consumption can negatively affect your oral health. Apart from dry mouth, tooth discoloration and plaque buildup, smoking causes gum disease, tooth loss and even oral cancer.
- Patient education. Patients who understand the outcome of poor dental health are more likely to see their dentist for preventive dentistry treatments. Instilling excellent oral hygiene habits significantly helps ensure a lifetime of dental health.