Even though Western civilization’s earliest physician, Hippocrates, advised a healthy diet and lifestyle as the fundamental approach to preventing and treating illness, our society has lost sight of that wisdom.
We consume foods that aren’t nutritious, lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and skimp on “time wasters” like sleep and preventive care appointments.
Waiting until you have a cavity, toothache, or gum disease before you go to the dentist runs the risk that your treatment may be more complicated and expensive. By getting ahead of your dental health with preventive dentistry, you ultimately save yourself time, pain, and money.
Louis B. Conte, DDS, and our team at Red Bank Dental Office — a full-service general and cosmetic dental facility in Red Bank, New Jersey — offer a full range of preventive dental treatments and technologies. (If you have a dental emergency, painful tooth, or bleeding gums, we take care of those for you, too, of course.)
Here’s how preventive dentistry can help you have a healthy mouth and teeth for life.
Clean your teeth effectively
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily are two of the simplest and easiest habits you can develop to keep your gums, teeth, and jawbone healthy. While you brush, you also have time to examine your teeth and soft tissues and make sure your gums don’t bleed.
As with any job, however, you have to brush and floss correctly to really get the best results. You wouldn’t spend five minutes just throwing some soap and water on your car. Or use a steel wool pad to scrub it.
Brushing and flossing your teeth takes time and the right tools. First, start with a soft-bristled brush. Hard bristles scrape off your teeth’s protective enamel, making them more susceptible to bacteria and cavities. Also, be sure to use a toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association® (ADA).
Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums, then gently move it back and forth in strokes no wider than a single tooth. Brush all of the surfaces of your teeth:
- In between
Spend at least 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth for a combined total of two minutes. Floss gently at least once a day, rubbing gently between the teeth. Also, bring the floss up in a C-shaped curve to clean underneath the gum.
Go to a pro at least twice a year
Though daily flossing and brushing is essential, it’s not sufficient. At least twice a year (more often if you have gum disease or tooth pain), you should get a professional tune-up and checkup for your teeth by coming in for an exam, X-rays, and professional cleaning. We check for:
- Gum erosion
- Gum disease
- Oral cancer
If your gums are infected or swollen, we recommend periodontal services. If you have oral cancer, we refer you to an oncologist.
Get some protection
Did you know that Dr. Conte can protect your child’s teeth from cavities with a simple treatment called sealants? He brushes the sealants on your child’s molars to give them an added layer of defense against bacteria.
Dr. Conte also recommends regular fluoride treatments to help your child’s enamel stay strong.
During your exam, Dr. Conte checks your teeth for signs of a condition called bruxism, which is a fancy way of saying “tooth grinding.” You may be grinding your teeth in times of stress, or — more likely — at night while you sleep.
Bruxism literally wears down your teeth, eroding and smoothing out the important cutting surfaces. It puts pressure on your teeth and jaw that can cause gum recession, too.
If you or your child shows signs of bruxism, Dr. Conte orders a custom-designed night guard that protects your teeth while you sleep, so they won’t be further compromised. He also may prescribe a daytime mouthguard to protect kids who play sports.
If you snore or have sleep apnea, he prescribes a custom-designed oral appliance that keeps your airways open while you sleep so you can get a good night’s sleep. The oral appliance also prevents bruxism.