Prevention is always better than treatment. By actively preventing disease and decay through regular home care, professional dental cleanings and regular exams, you will maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.
In addition, effective prevention can help you avoid costly treatments in the future to remove decay, restore teeth and treat gum disease. Regular prevention is truly your best investment.
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Dental examinations help to diagnose disease before it becomes hazardous to your health. In addition, regular examinations can save you money by alleviating problems while they are small and before they become expensive to repair, or in some cases, impossible to repair. Your dental examinations generally include the following:
- Oral cancer screening.
- Evaluation of growth and development.
- Orthodontic needs assessment.
- Gum disease evaluation.
- Visual examination of tooth decay.
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays to see cysts, tumors, invisible decay and other problems that can't be seen by the naked eye.
- Evaluation of status of current restorations (fillings and others).
We cannot express enough how important it is to see your dentist regularly.
Remember, preventing disease is always better than treating disease.
Professional cleanings (dental prophylaxis) form the foundation for preventing gum disease and tooth decay. In a professional cleaning, your child's dental team will:
- Remove plaque from the teeth -- plaque is a sticky substance that forms in the mouth from food, saliva and bacteria. Plaque sticks to teeth and causes tooth decay and gum disease.
- Remove calculus (tarter) above the gum line -- calculus is plaque that has hardened on the tooth surface and is difficult to remove. (Calculus below the gum line indicates gum disease and requires a different procedure to remove it.)
- Polish and remove stains from teeth.
Dental x-rays or radiographs are very important. They allow the dentist to see things about your oral health that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These items include cysts (sacks of fluid that form on the roots of teeth), cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, invisible decay that occurs between teeth, and the location of teeth that haven't grown all the way in.
By using an x-ray to diagnose these problems, we can help save you money in the long run from surgeries or other treatments that might become necessary if we didn't find the problem. In some cases, where dental x-rays show the location of tumorous growths, x-rays can be responsible for saving your life.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Modern dental x-ray machines are very safe. We use only state-of-the-art, low radiation machines. The amount of radiation exposure your body receives on an airplane flight from Los Angeles to New York exceeds the amount of exposure you will receive from a modern dental x-ray machine. Contrast this minimal exposure with the risk of not finding an illness until it is too late, and you can see why we prescribe regular diagnostic x-rays.
Adequate home care is imperative if you want to maintain a healthy, beautiful smile and prevent costly dental treatment in the future. The goal of home care is to regularly remove the sticky film of bacteria called plaque from your teeth.
Brush your teeth twice daily using a soft tooth brush. Gently vibrate the brush in a circular fashion at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Then gently vibrate the brush back and forth on each tooth surface until you have effectively cleaned the entire mouth. You should also brush your tongue to remove the bacteria that causes bad breath.
You can use any soft bristled, ADA approved tooth brush. We also recommend the use of modern electric tooth brushes such as Sonicare and Braun.
Your child should brush for approximately two minutes to effectively remove plaque that has formed on their teeth. Parents should monitor their child's brushing until the age of six. Your child's hygiene will be evaluated at his/her examination and effectiveness discussed.
Floss daily to remove plaque between teeth that you can't reach with regular brushing. Take 12" to 18" of dental floss and wrap it around the middle finger of each hand. Pull the floss tightly, and then use your thumb and forefingers to slide the floss gently between each set of teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and move the floss up and down along the tooth, going as low as you can comfortably get under the gum line. Use a fresh section of floss for each tooth until you have flossed the entire mouth. Flossing aids are available to assist children with holding the floss.
Always rinse thoroughly with water after brushing (or after meals if you are unable to brush.) You may occasionally use a mouthwash to rinse. Children may benefit from the use of ACT fluoride rinse, to help prevent cavities from forming in between the teeth. It is not recommended for children to use alcohol based mouthrinses.
Normal pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of back teeth can trap food that can't be removed by brushing or washed out by water or saliva. A sealant is a tough, plastic material designed to bond (stick) to tooth enamel.
- Protect normal pits and grooves on the chewing surface of back teeth.
- Stop small amounts of decay from growing larger.
A clear or tooth colored sealants is painted onto the tooth surface to "seal" the pits and grooves and protect against decay. They are generally applied to children's first permanent back teeth. They can also be useful for adults in certain situations.
Sealants are an excellent way to protect chewing surfaces of teeth from decay. They are a much better financial investment than treating decay after it has started.
Sealants are not permanent. They generally last about five years with normal wear, but can wear off or chip off earlier in certain instances. Also, sealants do not prevent decay between teeth or the onset of gum disease, so regular home care and dental visits are important.
There are no appropriate alternatives to sealants. If a tooth has decay, it will need a filling or other restoration.