Preventative dentistry consists of a number of in-office procedures and at-home habits and regimens that help to prevent tooth decay as well as the onset of gingivitis (gum disease) and periodontitis (the progression of gingivitis, now involving the underlying bone).
Extensive research has been conducted concerning the best ways to maintain healthy teeth and gums. They all conclude that well-established home care habits coupled with regular dental visits every 3-6 months are critical in maintaining a healthy mouth.
Dr. Rickoff and our experienced staff know that knowledge is key in helping our patients have optimal oral health. A standard home care regimen, including proper brushing and flossing at least twice a day, can dramatically prevent tooth decay and gum inflammation.
Even patients with the best home care program can develop decay and buildup on their teeth. Tartar buildup is not removed with brushing and flossing alone, which is why regular dental cleaning visits are very important.
A dental cleaning, also called a dental prophylaxis, is when a dentist or hygienist carefully removes any buildup and stain present on the teeth. This process is typically performed with hand instruments and/or an ultrasonic cleaner by a registered dental hygienist. After this process is completed, the hygienist will then polish each tooth to remove any other surface stain.
The regular 6 month hygiene visit also involves the dentist performing an examination of each tooth, carefully investigating any corresponding dental x-rays that may be required. Typically, bite wing x-rays of the posterior teeth are taken annually, whereas the full mouth series and/or panoramic x-ray is taken every 3-5 years.
Fluoride treatment and dental sealants are adjunctive preventative measures we utilize at Rickoff Dentistry. The use of topical fluoride on teeth is a widely used practice to help prevent tooth decay.
Topical fluoride works to help restrengthen the teeth, so to speak, and is an excellent tool to help combat both early childhood cavities, as well as prevention of cavities in patients of all ages.
Dental sealants also are extremely helpful in cavity prevention. Sealants are applied most often to the back teeth (the molars) which have deep grooves.
The grooves in back teeth are excellent places for food and bacteria to “hide out” and eventually cause decay and cavities as they are hard to keep clean. Sealants are placed in these grooves to make them more flat and flush with the rest of the tooth’s surface, thus preventing the impaction of food particles and resulting in a tooth that is easier to keep clean and less subject to decay.
The procedure is incredibly straight forward. The teeth are cleaned both mechanically (by a prophy brush) and chemically (by a product that cleans and prepares the enamel for bonding), and then the sealant is “painted” in the grooves. A curing light is used to “set” and harden the sealant material.
No numbing is necessary as the teeth are not drilled on at all. Patients are able to leave the office and chew immediately as they sealants are completely set by the curing light.
Most insurance companies will offer 100% coverage for hygiene appointments due to the importance in prevention and early diagnosis of potential dental issues. Insurance companies also know the value of dental sealants and fluoride treatment and typically also offer these at 100% coverage for children and adolescents.
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