Preventive dental treatments involve instruction, treatment, and the practice of keeping a proper oral hygiene routine. Preventative care is crucial for having healthy teeth and an attractive smile. The procedures are aimed at preventing cavities, enamel wear, and gingivitis (gum diseases).
Preventative Dental Treatments
Thorough Oral Examination
When you have a dental appointment, the dentist will conduct a comprehensive oral examination that may include any of the following:
Oral Cancer Screening: The dentist will examine your neck, lips, tongue, face, throat, gums, and tissues for possible evidence of oral cancer.
Diagnostic x-rays (radiograph): Sometimes, x-rays may be necessary to detect tumors, cysts, decay, and bone loss. Dentists also use x-rays during surgeries to discover root and tooth locations.
Examination for gum diseases: Sometimes, your dental professional will check the gums and bones surrounding the teeth for any evidence of periodontal diseases.
Oral Hygiene and Cleaning
Preventative dental treatment also entails dental cleaning, and usually include:
Plaque removal: Plaque is a muggy, pale film formed from the combination of bacteria, food remains, and saliva. The bacteria are toxic and potentially cause cavities and gum inflammation unless removed.
Elimination of calculus (tartar): tartar is a calcified plaque that builds up on the surface of the tooth. It usually forms below or above the gum line and can only be cleaned with specialized dental tools.
Teeth polishing: Polishing, when done by an expert dentist helps get rid of stains and plaques that exist on the teeth to give your teeth a cleaner appearance.
Placement of Dental Sealants
A dental sealant is a thin sheet of plastic placed on the grooves of the teeth, usually the back teeth since they are used more for chewing. The sealant shields the teeth from food debris and bacteria responsible for tooth cavities. If applied appropriately, dental sealants can protect your teeth from decay.
Dental sealant placement only takes between 30 minutes to one hour. The dentist will clean your teeth thoroughly using air abrasion to remove stains. The surface of the teeth will then be abraded to ensure that the sealant bonds well with the surface.
When the teeth surface is dry, the sealant will be applied to the grooves. Using laser or ultraviolet light, the dentist will proceed to harden the sealant to fuse it solidly to the teeth for maximum protection. The procedure ends when the sealant passes the final inspection by the dentist.
Home Care Education
Home care is necessary for preventing oral health conditions. Oral health is essential for your overall health. The dentist will inform you during your appointments of what home care measures you should take towards ensuring optimal oral hygiene.
Fluoride fortifies the teeth through remineralization, where minerals fuse to deteriorating areas of the tooth enamel. It also interrupts the production of acids by bacteria, to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is an economical way of maintaining oral health to avoid expensive procedures in the future.
You only need one dental appointment for fluoride treatment.
Dr. Eric Vanek, d.d.s
Eric has been a practicing dental surgeon for over 20 years and is the owner of Vanek Dentistry, a family dental practice in Costa Mesa, CA.
Published September 16, 2018. Updated June 6, 2023