There is an old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It fits many scenarios but when it comes to dental care, this is particularly true. The time and money you spend preventing dental problems is only a fraction of what you will spend if you neglect your teeth. Prevention is one of the most effective and least expensive methods of maintaining optimum oral health.
Regular Dental Checkups
All members of your family will benefit from regular dental checkups. For many people, these checkups are annual. Checkups for school-aged children are often scheduled in late summer or early fall to satisfy school and activity requirements.
Children grow fast and their bones are constantly changing. Regular dental checkups not only monitor the health and condition of teeth and gums, but they can also identify developing problems that may require orthodontic treatment later. In some instances, orthodontic treatment may be avoided if preventive measures are taken in the early stages of development. This is not always the case, but sometimes certain procedures can eliminate or minimize the need for extensive orthodontic treatment.
Regular dental checkups for children can also minimize or prevent the need for fillings. Permanent molars erupt with deep grooves and fissures on the occlusal, or chewing, surface. These help to grind food into the smallest bits for the best absorption in the digestive process. The downside is that they also provide a place for harmful bacteria to grow and produce the enamel-dissolving acids that cause cavities.
Sealants can be used on these teeth to protect them from the harmful actions of bacteria in the mouth. The sealants provide a coating and fill in the grooves and fissures just enough to make them easier to keep clean and less likely to harbor bacteria. Dental sealants are designed to last for years and in some cases, will last as long as 10 years if they are well maintained.
Sometimes the sealants can be worn away or crack. When this occurs, the opportunity for dental decay is increased. Regular dental checkups will ensure that they are still doing their job. Your dentist can replace them if necessary.
Although sealants are generally used for children’s teeth, some adults request sealants as well. They can only be applied to teeth that are in good condition with no previous signs of decay and no fillings.
Professional Teeth Cleaning
Part of your regular checkup includes professionally cleaning your teeth. Even the most fastidious person will benefit from a professional cleaning. Most people will have at least one or two areas in the mouth that are difficult to clean sufficiently. Plaque has no where to hide from the dental professional.
Whether you have very small deposits of plaque or large accumulations that lead to the development of tartar, a professional cleaning will ensure that all your teeth are as clean as possible. These cleanings are imperative for identifying and eliminating gum disease. Some individuals have no idea that gum disease may be brewing in the back of their mouth.
Early signs of gingivitis are red or bright pink gums that are puffy or swollen. They may bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. Discovering gingivitis in its earliest stages is best, and it is often identified during the regular checkup.
It is important to realize that genetics can play a role in a predisposition to gum disease. Some people are more likely to have an issue with plaque buildup than others. If you are one of these people, your dentist may suggest that your regular checkups be six months apart instead of annual. The more frequent visits can keep you from developing gum disease, which could lead to serious problems if not treated early.
Girls and women experience hormonal changes that can lead to the development of gum disease. Puberty, pregnancy and menopause are times in a female’s life that can make gums more sensitive and vulnerable to disease.
In addition to checking for gum disease, the hygienist also checks for gum recession. This condition also affects the health of your teeth. Gum recession is not only caused by gum disease, it can also be caused by aggressively brushing your teeth, especially if the toothbrush is too stiff. Hormonal changes can cause gum recession also. Puberty is a time when hormones are fluctuating, and individuals are more likely to have problems with gum disease and gum recession.
Another cause of receding gums is misaligned bites or crooked teeth. With these conditions, the teeth do not come together as they should. Extra force is placed on the gums and this can cause them to recede.
Likewise, excessive pressure is put on teeth and gums when you grind or clench your teeth. Bruxism is common among Americans. Stress and anxiety can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep, and you may not be aware that you are doing so unless your bed partner mentions it due to the noise caused by rubbing the teeth together, or if you experience other symptoms, such as jaw pain or morning headaches. Bruxism can be treated with a mouthguard that is worn while you sleep. This device prevents the upper and lower teeth from rubbing together.
Tobacco use is hazardous for your health on many levels, and especially where your oral health is concerned. Not only does it lead to a host of oral problems, including oral cancer, it can also contribute to gum recession. Eliminating tobacco use will help prevent these problems.
Regular professional teeth cleaning will help curb the harmful effects of all the above conditions. Being aware of those situations that can raise the risk of encountering problems helps you make changes so the risk can be lowered.
Enhancing Your Smile
Now that you know something about preventing problems that can lead to expensive repairs, what can you do to enhance a healthy smile? Even individuals with healthy teeth sometimes want to see changes made to enhance their smile.
Your teeth and gums may be free from any form of disease, but perhaps your teeth still look stained and grey. A professional whitening procedure can brighten your teeth by several shades. Your smile will look dazzling, and you may even look a few years younger. Teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure on the planet. It is a simple way to make a huge difference in the appearance of your smile.
Even healthy teeth can be aesthetically missing the mark. If you feel your smile could be improved in some way, your best option is to consult with a prosthodontist. Dentists who specialize in prosthodontics have significant training in dental aesthetics. They have a clear understanding of what makes a smile truly stand out. Your prosthodontist can advise you on the procedures that will be most appropriate and effective in achieving the look you desire.
Getting a consultation from a dentist skilled in cosmetic dentistry is like getting your car detailed as opposed to getting it washed. Either way it will look good, but the detailing will ensure it looks better than good. A dentist skilled in cosmetic dentistry can help you achieve your very best smile because of the small details that are addressed and may be overlooked by one not so skilled in the field.
The dental team at Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta has extensive knowledge of the nuances involved in creating a stellar smile. Additionally, we believe in preventing dental problems before they get started. Whether you are interested in maintaining a healthy smile or desire to have your smile enhanced in some way, you can depend on our team to help you achieve your goals.
Contact Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta today and schedule an appointment for an oral exam with one of our dentists. We create beautiful smiles and we help keep them healthy.