Taking preventive measures to protect your teeth from decay is essential for maintaining your natural smile. While prevention includes maintaining good at-home oral hygiene practices and making it to your routine dental visits, there are additional steps you can take to help keep your teeth healthy, strong, and safeguarded against the harmful bacteria that leads to decay and cavities.
Some of the following preventive measures are commonly associated with protective treatments appropriate for children, but they can be just as beneficial for adult teeth. The next time you pop in for your regular exam, take some time to ask the doctor about whether they are right for you.
Brushing and flossing cleans most of your teeth surfaces, but getting to all of the crevices — especially those located in the back molars and premolars — is difficult. Those tiny dips and pits are perfect for trapping food and bacteria, which often results in the formation of cavities.
Dental sealants provide a protective coating that keeps these areas free from food debris. They are made from a resin material that is used to coat the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. It is painted on and seals the nooks and crannies in the teeth, so that food and other plaque-causing materials that cause cavities are kept out.
The procedure for applying sealants is simple, painless, fast, and takes only one visit. First the decay is removed from your teeth, and they are thoroughly cleaned and dried. Next the sealant material is painted on the chewing surface. It will naturally bond to the tooth on its own; however, a special light may be used to speed the process, helping the sealant to harden in just a couple of minutes.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in both food and water. It aids in the prevention of tooth decay and cavities by making teeth resistant to the acids created by plaque and sugars. Fluoride is deposited on tooth enamel when you eat foods and beverages that contain it; it is lost when the acids produced by plaque and sugars eat away at the enamel of a tooth. Tooth decay occurs when the amount of fluoride lost outweighs what is being deposited.
Most often fluoride and its use in dental treatments is associated with children and the strengthening of their young, vulnerable teeth. Although fluoride is important for young children, it is also beneficial for adolescents and adults of all ages. In fact, new research indicates that fluoride’s role in fighting tooth decay as we age is just as important as its role in the strengthening and protection of newly developing teeth.
A fluoride treatment involves applying fluoride topically to teeth. The in-office fluoride treatment is quick and painless, and it involves applying fluoride in the form of varnish, gel, or foam directly onto the teeth. This can be accomplished by wearing a mouthguard filled with the foam or gel or by having varnish painted directly onto your teeth.
In addition to sealants and fluoride treatments, there are two important hygiene services that can improve your chances of avoiding decay, cavities, and tooth loss.
Periodontal treatment: This treatment prevents the progression of periodontal disease and returns teeth and gums to a healthy state.
Professional teeth cleanings: Having your teeth cleaned regularly helps prevent gingivitis, tooth decay, and loss of enamel from teeth. Some of the services included during your regular cleaning include:
- A review of your dental and medical history
- An oral cancer screening
- An evaluation of your overall oral health
- X-rays to detect decay
- Removal of stains, plaque, and tartar
- Polishing of all teeth
- At-home oral health education and instruction
Keeping your natural smile for a lifetime is possible when protective measures are taken and the proper dental care is received. Your oral health is our top priority, and making sure your teeth stay healthy and beautiful is our mission. Call us today to find out more about how we can help protect your smile against decay.