What Is Preventative Dental Care?

Just like you take your car in for oil changes to avoid serious problems with the engine later down the road, you visit the dentist for cleanings and X-rays even if you don’t have a specific concern. Preventative care is essential to ensure optimal oral health and prevent some of the negative consequences of poor dental care. While many patients engage in different types of preventative dental care, you might not understand exactly what it is. Here are the basics that every patient should know.

What Are Some of the Common Preventative Dental Care Services?

When you visit the dentist for something other than a toothache or urgent issue that needs to be taken care of, there is a good chance that you are visiting for preventative dental care. Your preventative dental care services may include things like regular checkups, teeth cleaning, annual X-rays, and oral exams.

What Else Is Included in Preventative Dental Care?

While you might associate preventative dental care with heading to the dentist’s office, the most important person for your preventative dental care is staring right back at you in the mirror – you! The habits that you practice on a daily basis are critical in ensuring that you stay as healthy as possible. What are some of the preventative dental care tasks that you can do at home on a daily basis?

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Choose a brush that has soft bristles and a toothpaste that contains fluoride or that is specifically recommended by your dentist. Beyond the act of brushing, your brushing technique is very important. Never press down hard. Tilt your toothbrush at an angle so that you are able to hit both the surface of your teeth and the top of your gums. Do not forget to brush every side of your teeth, not just the part you can see when you smile in the mirror.

  • Flossing is the only way to thoroughly get rid of any debris and food stuck between your teeth. As a result, brushing should also be accompanied by flossing. Flossing on a daily basis is one of the most high-impact ways to reduce the odds that you will experience tooth decay.

  • Whenever possible, avoid eating foods that are acidic. Acidic foods will wear down the natural enamel that protects your teeth and prevents you from experiencing increased tooth sensitivity. As you eat, it’s also a good idea to be cautious when you are chowing down on extremely sticky or hard foods. These might chip your teeth and lead to permanent damage that requires a crown or dental implant to repair.

  • If you play sports, it’s a good idea to wear a mouthguard. This can prevent you from certain types of damage due to trauma, and they will also prevent you from swallowing your tooth in the event that it is knocked loose during play.

  • Avoid chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes. Aside from leading to an increased risk of oral cancer and other types of cancers, tobacco products are shown to lead to dental problems and staining.

  • Schedule oral exams and dental cleanings every six months or as recommended and make every effort to keep your appointment. Some patients think that visiting the dentist and finding nothing wrong means that they don’t need to visit as often, but, in reality, it is the opposite. Visiting the dentist more often will help you avoid the problems that may crop up, so decreasing your visits is a surefire way to end up needing a filling or a root canal. 

Is Preventative Care Just for Adults?

Not at all! Preventative dental care is just as important for kids, even if they do not have any adult teeth yet. Visiting the dentist at an early age is a great way to reduce anxiety around the dentist and set up positive oral health tablets that can follow your child throughout their life. As a parent, it’s important to make sure that you promote good dental habits at home on a daily basis.