A recent National Institute of Health report showed that tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in the United States. Here at the Forest Family, we aren’t ‘ok’ with that. Tooth decay is preventable! That’s why we are so focused on bringing prevention-based dentistry to Austin.
What is a Preventative Dentist? A Preventive Dentist is one that focuses on conservative dental procedures and patient education that help people to prevent the beginning or progression of oral disease. At Forest Family Dentistry, we teach proper oral health habits to be performed at home by patients, as well as providing dental care and education by a trained team of dental professionals. The objective is to stop the development of oral disease or to find it at an early stage. Dr. Bethell looks for early signs of periodontal disease, cavities, and other changes in the soft tissue of the mouth that could lead to oral cancer.
One of the best things about preventive dentistry is that it is almost always painless, and poses little risk to the patient. However, it is important to take precautions when someone has a medical condition that would be affected by some of the procedures. Please tell your dentist about any medical conditions, such as heart valve prolapse, which need special pre-treatment. Allergies to any of the medications or materials used in preventive dentistry are rare, and at Forest Family Dentistry, we have equipment and supplies made from hypo-allergenic materials (latex-free, gluten-free, SLS-free, BPA-free, etc).
Preventive care in a dental office includes prophylaxis, or the cleaning of the teeth, sealants, and small conservative fillings. It also includes checking the teeth and soft tissue, using visual and tactile exams, radiographs (we use only digital x-rays that produce 1/8th the radiation of traditional x-rays), and oral cancer screening. Newer techniques to diagnose periodontitis, or gum disease, include computerized measurement devices that measure the bacterial content in the mouth. It might also be prudent to prescribe medications to help prevent dental disease.
Preventive procedures for children include the use of fluoride or calcium and phosphate (both have been proven to prevent decay). We also perform Dental Sealants that prevent bacteria from spreading into the most commonly decayed parts of teeth. In cases where small decay is present, we intervene early with conservative white fillings to stop the progression of decay, and try to put patients on the right track. We look for malocclusions (crowded teeth that are hard to clean) that can be treated with braces or Invisalign to correct a patient’s bad bite. Experts say that children should be evaluated for malocclusion by age seven, but it is never too late for orthodontics (even for adults!).
Preventive dental care begins in infancy, or when the first tooth begins to appear (around six months), and continue throughout life. Even before teeth erupt, parents can clean infants’ gums after feeding. Preventive care in adolescence includes brushing and flossing, as well as wearing custom-made mouth guards to protect the teeth during contact sports. Considering that 75% of Americans have some form of dental disease, regular dental visits are particularly important for adults. Seniors often benefit from training in proper techniques of denture care and cleaning, which include brushing the replacement teeth. Those who have problems moving their hands because of arthritis, for example, also benefit from tips for adapting toothbrushes for easier handling. No matter what the age or stage of life you are in, preventative dental visits can help you maintain a sustainable healthy smile.
Here are a few Prevention tips from Dr. Bethell:
1) Follow the rule of “2”s. Brush 2 times a day with a soft bristled brush, for 2 minutes. For children under six, brushing twice-a-day for 1 minute is adequate.
2) Floss every tooth 1 time per day. My dentist growing up would say “only floss the teeth you want to keep!”
3) Don’t smoke! Smokers are 3 times more likely than non-smokers to lose all their teeth. This figure hasn’t changed in decades!
4) And lastly, see a dentist every 6 months!