Preventive Dentistry in Plymouth, MN: Do I Need It?
When it comes to dentistry care has really evolved over the years….. in a good way. It has transformed from a place to go when you were in pain to receive complex dental procedures for care; to a place you go to try and prevent those problems from happening in the first place.
Because preventive dentistry is now more preventive in nature, anyone who is 40 or younger may not remember scary trips to see the dentist and that distinct dental office odor. Because experiences for dental needs are less than in the past it may create a question. “I really don’t have any dental problems; do I really need the preventive care that my dentist is recommending?” Because beautiful smiles matter, that is a great question worth exploring further. What are the different preventive measures recommended by many dentists and are they really worth it?
The most basic preventive measure you are probably familiar with is the twice a year cleaning and exam. So what about those 6 month visits to the dentist for family members? Are they really necessary? It is interesting to note where the 6-month rule of thumb first originated for dental visits. Its origins stem back over 50 years ago. It was noticed that dental exams for people who were entering the military showed that their teeth tended to not be in good shape.
There was a lot of care and treatment needed. This is because at that time not many people actually took good care of their teeth. There were no studies, guidelines, or advice on how often one should visit their dentist for a checkup and cleaning. Usually, a visit to the dentist was problem-based. Today, we routinely include oral cancer screenings to detect and avoid problems. If you had a toothache or broken tooth you would call your dentist to fix it. Not much thought or emphasis was placed on preventing the problems in the first place.
Preventive Dental Care Guidelines
It was determined that standards and guidelines needed to be set to establish proactive, preventive dental care as opposed to reactive, problem-based dental care. There hadn’t been much research at the time regarding preventive dental care, so a “best guess” or “rule of thumb” recommendation was made. That “rule of thumb” said people should go to the dentist twice a year for checkups and cleaning because cavities and gum disease are preventable. There are some who said the twice-a-year advice actually came from old toothpaste ads recommending that you brush and see your dentist every six months.
Today it is known that making preventive visits to your dentist and hygienist are good and twice a year is still a good guideline. However, scheduling dental visits really should be based upon each person’s oral hygiene, habits, and medical conditions.
At those preventive dental visits, your dentist can check for problems that you may not see or feel. An individual cannot see or feel many dental problems early on. By the time one can see it or feel it the treatment will generally become more extensive and costly. Examples include cavities, gum disease, and oral cancer. Regular visits allow your dentist to find early signs of disease. Problems can be treated at a manageable, less invasive method.
Low-risk, Medium-risk, and High-Risk Dental Assessments
On average, seeing a dentist twice a year works well for many people. Some are actually ok with fewer visits but others may need visits more frequently than twice a year. People with a very little risk of cavities or gum disease may be fine seeing their dentist just once a year. People with a high risk of dental disease (cavities or gum disease) might need to visit their dentist every three to four months, or more!
If your dentist is recommending more frequent visits it may be due to one of the following reasons:
- People who smoke
- Pregnant women
- People with diabetics
- People with current gum disease
- People with a weak immune response to bacterial infection
- People who tend to get cavities or build up plaque
Times When You May Need to See Your Dentist More Often
The recommended number of dental visits per year for any person may change during a lifetime. In times of stress or illness, you may need to see the dentist more often than usual. The dentist may help you to fight off a temporary oral infection or treat changes in your mouth.
If you take good care of your teeth and gums at home and your dentist doesn’t find any cavities or gum disease for a few years, he or she may choose to lengthen the time between visits. Ask your dentist the best schedule for your routine dental visits.
3 Top Reasons that an Electric Toothbrush is Recommended
Another preventive measure you may hear from your dentist or hygienist is to purchase an electric toothbrush. We have used hand ones for years and years and they seem ok. Your dentist even probably gives you a hand toothbrush after your visit for a cleaning with the hygienist.
Why is an electric toothbrush recommended?
1. Electric toothbrushes have a timer. Most of us brush, but in today’s go-go, never enough time society few of us spend enough time brushing when we brush with a manual brush. Two minutes is the recommended length of time for brushing. The timer on the electric brush will tell you when you have brushed for two minutes. Further, it will give you a notification every 30 seconds during the two minutes which serves as a reminder to brush in a different part of the mouth.
2. Children’s electric brushes now even come with apps where a child will slowly see a picture appear of a favorite comic character. Once they have brushed for 2 minutes this picture, or electronic sticker fully shows and can be placed into a sticker book. It is amazing to watch children get motivated by an electronic sticker but kids sure do love stickers!
3. Also, for people with arthritis or dexterity problems, electric toothbrushes are certainly easier to handle.
The bottom line on electric toothbrushes is that a manual toothbrush can be just as effective as an electric toothbrush if you brush correctly. Brushing long enough tends to be the little hiccup for most of us that make buying the electric toothbrush a good investment.
Fluoride treatment is a preventive measure you may hear your dentist recommend.
What is the value of a Fluoride Treatment?
Well, fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter, and for good reason. Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay. It is especially good for children as they go through their formative years to help prevent cavities caused by all those suckers, pop, Halloween candy, and sugary things that kids like to eat.
As we get into adulthood the benefits of fluoride treatments really become dependent on the individual. For instance, if an adult does not have a history of developing tooth decay then additional fluoride treatments may be viewed by your dentist as unnecessary and therefore not recommended. However, if your teeth are crooked or overly crowded, your dentist may recommend orthodontics to straighten your teeth.
There are times where it is beneficial to have adults receive fluoride treatments.
Adult fluoride treatments are recommended when:
- When they have a history of developing cavities or are determined to be at risk for cavities by their dentist.
- When help is needed for sensitivity issues that an individual may have with their teeth.
- When fluoride is not present in the municipal water system.
The Journal of the American Dental Association talks about fluoride use for children in the article titled Professionally Applied Topical Fluoride, published in The Journal of the American Dental Association in 2006. It is still widely quoted as information that is still relevant in 2018.
- Fluoride gel is effective in preventing caries in school-aged children.
- Fluoride varnish applied every six months is effective in preventing caries in the primary and permanent dentitions of children and adolescents.
- Fluoride varnish applications take less time, create less patient discomfort, and achieve greater patient acceptability than fluoride gel.
- The amount of toothpaste used for children younger than 6 years should not exceed the size of a pea.
Using Sealants to Protect Your Teeth
Sealants are an excellent preventive measure that may be recommended by your dentist. A sealant is a coating that the dentist applies to your tooth/teeth. The most common area for cavities to form is on the biting surface of the tooth. The molars (back teeth) have all sorts of pits and fissures where bacteria can settle in and start causing tooth decay. A sealant is a thin coating usually made from plastic or other dental materials.
When applied to the biting service of a tooth in a liquid form it will go down to the pits or fissures on the biting surface of the molars then harden forming a protective coating. This protective covering provides one less area where a cavity can form. It is an excellent preventive measure especially for children who tend to not have the best brushing habits. It can prevent a future, unwanted tooth extraction.
The goal of all these preventive measures is to help an individual keep their natural teeth for a lifetime. If you have been wondering if they are necessary just remember; if you wait for treatment until you feel pain it may be too late for preventive measures to help. Don’t wait to see your dentist until this happens. Go as recommended by your dentist and keep the visits simple, preventive in nature. Learn more about Dr. Brett Moore, Dr. Corey Jensen, and Dr. Ali Mohebbi, top dentists in the Twin Cities metro.
In return for your efforts, your mouth and teeth will pay you back with a beautiful smile and the ability to eat whatever you want for years to come! The restoration of defective or missing teeth is core to your ongoing overall health.
Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, MN is dedicated to delivering the highest quality of dental care to our patients and applying advancements in dental technology and science to continually provide improved oral hygiene and dental health. (763) 537-1238
Brian Denn is the Clinic Manager at Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, Minnesota. Brian has over 25 years of dental practice management involving making practices run smoother and patient experiences better. He also leads a dental practice managers group staying abreast of the latest dental practice management trends.