Preventive dentistry is a progressive way to help you keep your teeth clean and a mouth healthy, thus reducing the amount of dental treatment you may need. The two main causes of tooth loss are: 1) decay and 2) gum disease.
When you eat or drink something sugary, the bacteria in the plaque turns the sugar into acid, which may cause tooth decay. Plaque can also cause gum inflammation (swelling and soreness) if it is not regularly and thoroughly removed, and become hard tartar or ‘calculus’ which sticks to the teeth attracting more plaque.
We will give you the latest and best possible advice to help prevent dental disease:
- Oral hygiene: we will show you the industry standard advice in how best to brush your teeth and interdental cleaning. We recommend that you:
– brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
– clean in between your teeth with interdental brushes or floss – brushing alone only cleans up to circa 60% of the surface of your teeth.
– use a mouthwash. Many mouthwashes contain antibacterial ingredients to help prevent gum disease and fluoride to help prevent decay.
- Diet: food and drinks containing sugar cause decay. Cutting down the frequency of consuming sugary snacks and drinks will help to prevent tooth decay. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and minerals can also help prevent gum disease and protect against mouth cancer.
Tooth tissue can also be lost through dental erosion. This is the loss of enamel (first layer of the tooth) caused by acid attack. This can lead to pain and sensitivity. Foods and drinks that contain acid, such as citrus fruits, fizzy drinks, smoothies, fruit juice and fruit teas, can all cause dental erosion if you have them often. Dental erosion can be prevented by:
– Restricting any acidic food and drinks to meal times.
– Drinking acidic drinks through a straw – this helps the drink to go to the back of your mouth and reduces the likelihood of acid attack on the teeth.
– Waiting at least one hour after eating or drinking to brush the teeth, so allowing your saliva to slowly restore it to its natural balance.
- Chew sugar-free gum – it makes your mouth produce more saliva and stops your mouth drying out. It can also help to reduce plaque and prevent dental decay and erosion.
- Fluoride – this helps to resist tooth decay. We will recommend the right level in your toothpaste. Fluoride varnishes may be recommended for children to help prevent decay. If you are particularly at risk of decay your dental team may recommend or prescribe a high-strength fluoride toothpaste.
- Habits (such as smoking and drinking): Smoking can cause tooth staining, tooth loss and mouth cancer, and make gum disease worse. If you smoke, you may need to visit the dental team more often, we advise you to try to give up.
Alcoholic drinks can also cause mouth cancer and if you smoke and drink you are more at risk. Some alcoholic drinks contain a lot of sugar and may contain acids and can cause decay or erosion if you drink them often and in large amounts.
A ‘preventive dentist’ will often recommend treatment to strengthen a tooth. If you do need restorative work, we do our best to give you the most conservative treatment. We would advise you to visit your dental team regularly.