Why Dental Prevention?
Most of us love the squeaky clean feeling we get from our regular teeth cleaning. We smile a little bigger and feel a sense of accomplishment in taking care of our dental health, especially when we get a good report about our checkup.
Regular dental examinations, cleanings, dental xrays and fluoride treatments are part of a preventive dental program that the American Dental Association recommends for patients of all ages. At Carmichael Dental Care, we usually see patients 2-4 times per year for dental hygiene and periodontal maintenance visits.
Prevention in dentistry is about identifying and addressing problems long before they become painful, expensive or overwhelming. Often, unless they are in pain, patients with extensive dental problems don't necessarily rush to the dentist because they are worried about costs, or, are fearful. It is important to know that no matter where you are with your dental health, Dr. Chet Swartzentruber and team are here to help.
Diagnostics - the key to Prevention
During regular dental check-up and cleaning visits, the dentist and dental hygienists use dental xrays and diagnostic tools to study the teeth, gums, soft tissue and jaw joints in detail to look for early signs and symptoms of dental problems, including:
Dental decay occurs when bacterial plaque becomes acidic and attacks tooth enamel. Over time, decay can continue to invade the tooth and will eventually reach the tooth nerve and cause dental pain or abscesses. Treatment of tooth decay usually involves removing the decay and placement of a dental restoration; if decay does reach the tooth nerve, a root canal procedure may be necessary.
Periodontal (gum) Disease
Periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults. This progressive oral infection causes destruction underneath the gums and within the bone that supports the tooth. Signs of periodontal infection include bleeding gums, loose teeth, foul odor or persistent bad taste in the mouth. Periodontal disease does not usually hurt, making it even more difficult for the patient to detect on their own. If diagnosed early, it is often treated non-surgically by the dentist and dental hygienist using root planing techniques for removal of toxins from tooth root surfaces to promote healing.
Bruxism (teeth grinding) or Clenching
Grinding teeth at night during sleep or frequent teeth clenching throughout the day can lead to problems with worn, broken or cracked teeth; eventually causing tooth nerve damage or even tooth loss. A common preventive measure that dentists recommend are nightguards (also called bite splints). These custom-made mouth appliances help protect teeth from wear due to grinding or clenching.
Loss of jaw bone is detected using dental xrays. It is a sign of periodontal disease, poor bite function, infection or a bony defect. When bone levels are insufficient, the roots of teeth become vulnerable to decay, and, the teeth become loose and may fall out. In cases of extreme bone loss, referral to a periodontal specialist for surgical grafting procedures may be recommended.
Restorations in need of repair or replacement
Dental restorations, such as fillings, crowns or bridges, are susceptible to wear and breakdown due to aging, tooth decay and oral habits such as teeth grinding or clenching. During check-up visits, Dr. Chet Swartzentruber and will examine existing restorations carefully to look for any potential problems.
Teeth wear naturally as part of the aging process. The goal in each dental examination is to assess the amount of tooth wear and determine if any measures are necessary to make corrections to the bite or restorations to prevent excessive wear or to repair tooth damage.
Oral cancer is on the rise. Linked to the human papilloma virus (HPV), this life-threatening disease has been diagnosed across the U.S. in young adults to seniors. The early symptoms of oral cancer are usually barely noticeable to the patient. They include a mouth sore that won’t heal, a feeling of a “lump” in the mouth or throat, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or soreness or numbness in the tongue. Dr. Chet examines the oral soft tissue carefully at regular dental visits to look for early warning signs of oral cancer.
Partial and Complete Dentures – proper fit and structure
Even patients that do not have teeth should visit the dentist 1-2 times a year. During this appointment, the dentist can perform an oral cancer screening and use diagnostic xrays to evaluate jaw bone levels for signs of deterioration. We will also thoroughly check removable dentures to determine if reline or repair is needed to maintain adequate fit and proper function.
Most patients develop third molars, or wisdom teeth, during the late teen years. In most cases, the patient does not have sufficient room in the mouth to retain these teeth and keep them clean. They often become infected and cause the face and jaw to swell, which is quite painful. Dr. Swartzentruber may recommend that wisdom teeth be extracted in our office, or, by an oral surgeon to prevent problems with decay, pain or infection.
Dental and Medical Connection
For a healthy patient, infection or bacteria related to dental problems is manageable. When the dental problem, such as tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease is treated and under control, the body systems heal normally.
When a patient has a medical condition that compromises the body's ability to heal, dental problems can complicate things further. Patients with diabetes, heart disease, pregnant women and patients undergoing chemotherapy are especially vulnerable to any type of infection or inflammation in the body.
An important part of our dental examination visit is a thorough review of the patient’s medical history, including current medications. Understanding how the mouth and the body interact can play a significant role in overall wellness and quality of life. We will always base our recommendations on maintaining total physical health and well-being.
If you have questions about preventive dentistry measures that make sense for your situation, we invite you to Contact Carmichael Dental Care to make an appointment.