We devote a large portion of our practice on preventive care. Most of the dental diseases are preventable if we take some time to care for our teeth. The key is to start early before the first cavity gets in. For those younger patients we see regularly since the 90s, they are now in college and are cavity free. Preventive care works!
It applies to adults too. Cavity and gum disease are caused by bacteria. By teaching the patients how to control their oral hygiene, watch their diet, we can greatly reduce their chance of getting dental disease. Furthermore, with children, we can apply topical fluoride, sealant to give them an extra layer of protection. Fluoride supplement is also helpful for the development of stronger enamel.
Taking regular X-rays is also an important part of preventive care. Dental X-ray is our only means to detect new cavity or cavity under old restorations, gum disease, abscess, or other dental problems. It is much safer than you think. Unlike hospital X-ray, dental X-ray is a soft radiation that will not cause much harm to your body. Also, dental film is very small and the amount of exposure is minimal. But the benefit is significant. Without X-ray, we simply cannot diagnose dental disease or to provide dental treatment.
Teeth grinding or bruxism is a serious dental problem facing a lot of people today. It causes not only damage to the jaw joint resulting in TMJ pain but also wears down the enamel on the tooth surface. Teeth once formed will not grow anymore. If patient grinds and wears down the teeth prematurely, it will shorten the life of the teeth. As the enamel becomes thinner and thinner, the teeth will get more and more sensitive. So we try to catch this problem early and recommend the patient to use a nightguard to protect the teeth. A nightguard is an occlusal bite plate made of hard acrylic. Patient wears it during his/her sleep. It protects the teeth against clenching and grinding. It also opens the bite to relax the jaw muscles and alleviate TMJ pain.
We also offer oral cancer screening as part of the dental exam. Oral cancer is a very devastating disease that affects all age group. It tends to metastasize or spread to other part of the body and by the time the patient feels sick, the survival rate is very low. The risk factors include heavy smoking and drinking but virus can also play a role in the mutation of the cells. With early detection, the treatment is very simple and it saves life.
The American Dental Association recommends a checkup and cleaning every 6 months. So bring in your family every 6 months and let your children get a head start on the road to preventive care.