Taking good care of your teeth involves more than just brushing and flossing. It’s just as important to visit your dentist at least every six months for a regular checkup and professional cleaning. Preventative dental care can help keep teeth healthy and include routine oral exams, X-rays, professional cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments. These practices are designed to ensure that teeth are clean, strong and healthy.
While preventative dental care is important for everyone, it’s especially important for young children. Children need to make good dental habits at an early age to help maintain clean, strong and healthy teeth as they mature. For help finding a local dental professional, search for a dentist near you.
When To Seek Preventative Care
Even if you don’t have any symptoms, regular visits are important for preventing many problems from getting worse.
Seek preventative dental care if you are experiencing:
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pain or swelling in your mouth, face or neck
- Sores in your mouth that won’t heal
- Bad breath
- Pain when you drink or eat something
The only way to determine if you need treatment for any of these issues is by making an appointment with your dentist. They can give you a routine oral exam, then review your symptoms, make an accurate diagnosis and give you a treatment plan.
Common Types of Preventative Care
Preventative dental care starts with you. Here are the basics of good oral health:
- Brush your teeth at least 2 times a day—your dentist can recommend the best toothbrush and toothpaste for you
- Floss daily
- Use a mouthwash
- Avoid acidic foods that can harm tooth enamel.
- Be cautious with hard foods, like some candies, foods with bones, seeds, or pits
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products
- Use a mouth guard when participating in sports
- If you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about a mouth guard
The dental exam itself is a form of preventative care, since the purpose of the appointment is to detect the potential for dental decay. Once the exam is done, and after reading any X-rays, your dentist can then recommend that you have your teeth cleaned, which can help in the prevention of cavities and gum disease.
Here’s what you can expect during a preventative care visit:
- Professional Teeth Cleaning: a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gumline to remove built-up plaque and tartar. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.
- Dental Examination: your dentist will look for signs of disease or other problems with your teeth, gums and mouth.
- X-Rays: X-rays can help dentists see weakened spots in the teeth, wisdom teeth, the alignment of your teeth and the general health of your smile.
Who Provides Preventative Dental Care?
Be sure to schedule a preventative care appointment and professional cleaning twice a year for your healthiest smile.