Preventive dental care is worthwhile throughout your life, no matter what your age may be. By practicing good oral hygiene at home and scheduling regular checkups with our office, you can help keep your smile bright and healthy for many years to come.
Below we have information on the gold standards of home care, good brushing, and flossing. These activities are still the best way to care for your smile, but advances in prevention are happening at an exciting rate, and we are committed to bringing them to you! Our goal is to keep you healthy so you need less of us!
We offer silver diamine fluoride to our patients when we find early decay on X-rays. This newly FDA-approved material has been proven to slow and even reverse early decay. Yes, we said reverse. In some cases, the enamel structure is fully restored, and we cannot even see the previous area of decay on X-rays anymore!
Home care products have gotten better. There are products we can provide or prescribe for your individual needs based on your “risk assessment.”
As you know, some people are terrible about brushing and flossing, and somehow leave the dental office with perfect check-ups while others work hard and still seem to get cavities! That’s because everyone’s immune system and even the strength of the bacteria in their mouths can be different.
So some people need to add to that good daily routine based on their individual situation. We customize a plan for you based on your needs. We have products like LoLoz which is a twice a day “candy” for two weeks after your cleaning to slow the re-establishment of your mouth’s bacteria until your next check-up.
Or we may recommend chewing Xylitol gum, which is a cavity fighter too. Maybe you suffer from dry mouth or recession, both of which increase decay rates, so we can recommend products for those, as well. If inflammation in your gums is a problem despite good home care, there are products to help you fight that battle.
Again, our goal is to say “Great Check-up” every time we see you and we will work together to get there!
Here are a few more simple ways you can prevent the build-up of plaque and cavities:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use fluoride toothpaste to remove food particles and plaque from the tooth surfaces. Also be sure to brush the top surface of your tongue; this will remove any extra plaque-causing food particles, and help keep your breath fresh!
- We are big fans of certain electric toothbrushes, particularly Sonicare and Oral B. Do check with us before making a purchase, though, because not all electric toothbrushes are created equal. We find some provide less help than a properly used standard soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Clean between your teeth by flossing at least once a day. You can also use a mouthwash to help kill bacteria and freshen your breath. Decay-causing bacteria can linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach. Floss and mouthwash will help remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth and under the gum line.
- Eat a balanced diet, and try to avoid extra-sugary treats. Nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, or fruit can help keep your smile healthy.
- Remember to schedule regular checkups with our office every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.
- Ask Dr. Powell or Dr. Tiller about dental sealants: protective plastic coatings that can be applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay often starts.
- If you play sports, be sure to ask us about special mouthguards designed to protect your smile.
If it’s been six months since your last dental checkup, then it’s time to contact our practice and schedule your next appointment!
If you often wake up with jaw pain, earaches, or headaches, or if you find yourself clenching or grinding your teeth, you may have a common condition called bruxism.
Although the causes of bruxism are not really known, several factors may be involved. Stressful situations at home, school, or work, problems in sleeping, an abnormal bite, and crooked or missing teeth may contribute to bruxism. Many people do not even know that they grind their teeth, as it often occurs when one is sleeping. If not corrected, bruxism can lead to broken teeth, cracked teeth, damaged restorations, or even tooth loss.
There is an easy, non-invasive treatment for bruxism: nightguards. Nightguards are an easy way to prevent the wear and damage that teeth-grinding cause over time. Custom-made by your dentist from soft material to fit your teeth, a nightguard is inserted over your top or bottom arch and prevents contact with the opposing teeth.
Preventing Problems Before They Start
The health of your teeth and mouth is very important to the well-being of your entire body, and while routine brushing and flossing at home is necessary to keep your smile looking its best, visiting your dentist for a comprehensive exam and cleaning is essential. The American Dental Association recommends that you visit your dentist every six months to ensure your teeth stay healthy and your smile stays beautiful.
By routinely seeing your dentist for exams and cleanings, you can:
- Prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath
- Save money by avoiding costly and extensive dental procedures
- Keep your teeth white by reducing staining from food and drinks
- Shorten the time spent in your dentist's office
- Have a smile that will last a lifetime
During your exam, your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health problems. Your dentist may also want to take X-rays to see what is happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums. Whether these X-rays are traditional or digital, the images provided will help your dentist discover dental issues not visible to the naked eye.
Your dental hygienist will begin your cleaning by exploring the surface of your teeth to determine if you have any cavities and to examine the quality of existing fillings. The dental hygienist will then perform a periodontal exam to make sure your gums adhere tightly to your teeth, and no periodontal disease or bone loss may be occurring.
Next, your hygienist will carefully clean your teeth with a variety of tools to remove any hard mineral buildup (tartar) from your teeth. Then your hygienist will floss your teeth, use a polishing compound, and apply fluoride. Cleanings usually aren't painful, but if you have any anxiety about your dental exam, be sure to let your hygienist know. They may offer several sedation options to ensure your comfort. If your dentist or hygienist finds tooth decay or gum disease, they will talk to you about changing your brushing or flossing habits. In severe cases, they may recommend antibiotics or other dental treatments. If your teeth and gums appear to be healthy, your dentist will probably recommend that you continue your brushing and flossing routine as usual.
Silver Diamine Fluoride
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is an FDA-approved topical solution that treats and prevents dental caries and reduces tooth sensitivity. It is made with two acting ingredients: the silver component is an anti-microbial agent that kills bacteria and prevents the formation of new biofilm, and the fluoride prevents further demineralization (softening) of the tooth structure.
Treatment with SDF does not eliminate the need for restorative dentistry (fillings, crowns, etc.) to repair function or aesthetics, but is effective at preventing further decay.
SDF is a simple and noninvasive way to treat carious lesions (cavities), and it can be done from the comfort of our dental office.
- The teeth are brushed without paste and rinsed.
- The carious teeth are isolated, kept dry, and all excess debris is removed.
- A microbrush is dipped in a drop of SDF and placed on the lesion(s) for two minutes.
- Any decayed areas will stain black. Healthy tooth structure will not stain.
- Excess SDF is removed and patients are instructed to not eat or drink for one hour.
Why use SDF?
We recommend using SDF in several situations, including:
- Children who have extreme decay (severe early childhood caries)
- Young children who have difficulty sitting still for treatment
- Special needs patients
- Children with carious lesions (cavities) that need to be treated over several visits
The Advantages of SDF:
- Provides immediate relief from tooth hypersensitivity
- Kills the organisms that cause cavities
- Hardens softened dentin making it more acid- and abrasion-resistant
- Does not stain healthy dentin or enamel
Sometimes brushing is not enough, especially when it comes to those hard-to-reach spots in your mouth. It is difficult for your toothbrush to get in between the small cracks and grooves on your teeth. If left alone, those tiny areas can develop tooth decay. Sealants give your teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Dental sealants are plastic resins that bond and harden in the deep grooves on your tooth's surface. When a tooth is sealed, the tiny grooves become smooth and are less likely to harbor plaque. With sealants, brushing your teeth becomes easier and more effective.
Sealants are typically applied to children's teeth after their permanent teeth have erupted as a preventive measure against tooth decay. However, adults can also receive sealants on healthy teeth. It is more common to seal permanent teeth rather than baby teeth, but every patient has unique needs, and your dentist will recommend sealants on a case-by-case basis.
Sealants typically last from three to five years, although it is fairly common to see adults with sealants still intact from childhood. A dental sealant only provides protection when it is fully intact so if your sealants come off, let your dentist know, and schedule an appointment for your teeth to be resealed.