Preventive Dentistry

Preventive dentistry is the area of dentistry aimed to help people prevent oral disease and its further development. Preventive dentistry includes not just in-office dental care, but at-home treatments as well.

Some examples of at-home treatments include:

  • Regular brushing– the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing two times a day and directly after meals, when possible.
  • Regular flossing– the ADA recommends flossing at least once a day.
  • Rinsing with anti-bacterial mouth wash– recommended after each brushing

Proper brushing is essential in preventative dentistry. The proper way to brush your teeth is to use a soft nylon toothbrush with round-ended bristles. Next both the tooth surface and the gum line should be brushed by placing the brush at a 45-degree angle along the gum line and brushing gently in a rolling back-and-forth motion on the surface of the teeth. When brushing you should cover the inner surfaces of your teeth and then tilt the brush in order to brush the front teeth. The ideal brushing technique also involves the brushing of the tongue. Brushing should last until all teeth a gum lines have been thoroughly brushed.

Maintaining regularly schedule dental cleanings and prevention is imperative to your oral health.

A dental cleaning, or also know as a “prophylaxis” is a dental procedure which is performed with the goal of reducing the risk of gum and tooth disease. Also known simply as a prophylaxis or prophy, this procedure is recommended at intervals which can vary from six months to one year, depending on a patient’s history and individual health needs. It is performed by a dentist or licensed dental hygienist (RDH) who has received specialized training in tooth care.

Sealants are a protective coating applied to the biting surfaces of teeth after any staining is removed. The sealant protects the tooth from getting a cavity by shielding against bacteria and plaque. Sealants are most commonly placed on a child’s permanent posterior teeth (molars) because they are more prone to cavities. They can also be placed on adults’ teeth, but most insurance companies won’t cover them.

For many patients regular fluoride treatments can be beneficial. In our office, we use a fluoride varnish to deliver an effective treatment that will remineralize and strengthen weakened areas as well as reduce sensitivity for some patients. Current guidelines indicate that following the discovery of any new decay, fluoride treatments should be provided at each cleaning appointment for a period of no less than three years.

Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment. Be sure you dental exam includes a full periodontal charting that is documented for your review annually. If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two visits with your dental hygienist for professional cleaning above and below the gum line with medications to reduce bacteria counts are commonly recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and require regular dental cleanings. If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended. This is a non-surgical procedure that can be done in the dentist office. One to three appointments will be needed to complete your treatment. Success of your treatment is largely dependent upon your compliance to home-care instructions.

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is the unconscious gnashing, grinding, or clenching of the teeth. It usually occurs during sleep. This process can grind away parts of the teeth, leaving flattened, worn-down biting edges; fractured enamel; and painful or loose teeth.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Jaw or face pain or soreness
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s actually not a problem with your ear
  • Dull headache originating in the temples
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
  • Indentations on your tongue


When to see a dentist

  • Your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive
  • You have pain in your jaw, face or ear
  • Others complain that you make a grinding noise while you sleep
  • You have a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely
  • If you notice that your child is grinding his or her teeth — or has other signs or symptoms of bruxism — be sure to mention it at your child’s next dental appointment.

In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to:

  • Damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth

A mouthguard is a comfortable piece of athletic gear that fits over your teeth and can help protect your smile as well as your lips, tongue, face, and jaw. New research indicates that mouthguards can even reduce the severity of concussions.

A nightguard is a custom-made acrylic mouthpiece that is worn to protect the teeth from grinding (bruxing) or clenching, mostly occurring during sleep.