What is Preventative Dentistry?
Many Americans think of dentists as a kind of surgeon or general doctor– someone to go to when you need a tooth pulled or a cavity filled, and someone to occasionally visit for a check-up. However, dentists who practice preventative dentistry work to be more involved in your day-to-day oral health.
Preventative dentistry involves educating and working with patients to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. Preventative dental care includes teaching people of all ages proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing to keep teeth in top condition through mouth-healthy habits. Prevention might also include educating patients on maintaining a healthy diet and limiting refined sugar to avoid cavities and plaque buildup.
Essentially, preventative dental care works to prevent diseases and maintain overall oral health. Rather than treating existing conditions, prevention methods help patients take control of their health by anticipating conditions before they develop.
Three Stages of Preventative Dental Care
Dentalcare.com explains the three-stage approach of preventative dentistry, which includes:
- Primary Prevention, which aims to avoid the development of disease in healthy individuals. Primary prevention includes encouraging less sugar consumption and good brushing habits.
- Secondary Prevention, which focuses on detecting disease early, and preventing the worsening of existing symptoms. Secondary treatments might include screening for cavities even in patients without symptoms of tooth decay.
- Tertiary Prevention, which seeks to minimize the impact of existing conditions, and seeks to restore function. In this sense, prevention refers to preventing conditions from impacting the quality of life. Tertiary strategies might be filling cavities to prevent further decay and tooth pain, or replacing missing teeth with dentures.
Benefits of Preventative Dental
Preventative dentistry gives patients greater control of their oral health and minimizes the need for extensive or emergency treatment. Preventive dentistry can help people of all ages. For children, primary strategies can establish good habits early for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
In adults, prevention techniques can help keep conditions associated with aging at bay. Nearly half (46%) of adults 30 years and older show early signs of gum disease, and severe gum disease affects about 9% of adults. Through preventative dental care, dentists can help limit the onset and spread of gum disease, enamel erosion, and more. Through preventative strategies, dentists educate and treat adults and children to help them enjoy a life-long healthy smile.