A primary goal of our office is to help you maintain good oral health for a lifetime. We approach that goal in several ways, the most obvious being the repair of existing dental problems. An even better approach is to avoid dental problems in the first place, and that is what preventive dentistry is all about.
From early childhood through adulthood, preventive dental procedures performed in our office and you at home can help minimize dental disease and hopefully avoid many problems altogether. A prevention regimen is simple but requires teamwork – regular dental examinations and cleanings performed in our office, and regular brushing and flossing performed by you, the patient, at home.
For most patients, we recommend a dental cleaning and examination twice a year, once every six months. Patients who have other health issues such as diabetes or advanced gum disease may benefit from more frequent cleanings, usually scheduled every three to four months.
At your prevention appointment, you will be scheduled with one of our dental hygienists. The cleaning removes built up deposits around your teeth near the gum-line, including material that has become too hard to remove with regular tooth brushing alone. Limited diagnostic X-rays are generally taken once a year, depending on the conditions observed during your dental examination.
After your cleaning, Dr. Pollard will examine your teeth for possible decay areas, and both he and the hygienist will inspect all soft tissue areas in your mouth for any unusual redness, white spots or swelling that might indicate other disease. Fluoride treatment to strengthen teeth, either provided in office or with a prescription toothpaste, may be suggested to help avoid future tooth decay
One of the most effective prevention treatments developed by dentistry in recent years is also one of the easiest for patients to receive. Sealants are a hard plastic film that is brushed into deep grooves on healthy teeth to seal irregular surfaces and help prevent tooth decay.
This procedure is normally recommended for children and teens to protect permanent molars during cavity prone years when brushing habits are not well established.
After a cleaning, the teeth to be sealed are dried and isolated with cotton rolls, the sealant material is brushed on the tooth and hardened with a high intensity light. The resulting tooth surface is slick rather than deeply grooved, making cleaning easier and blocking the access of cavity causing bacteria.
Bleeding or swollen gum tissue, receding gums, and teeth that seem loose all represent different levels of gingival infection ranging from gingivitis to periodontal disease. In these cases, cleaning procedures are accompanied by additional treatment to help remove the source of infection. Most gum infections are caused by extensive build up of material on the root of teeth, just below the gumline. In mild cases, treatment occurs during your cleaning and examination appointment.
For more severe cases, we will schedule several appointments to remove plaque and tarter from your teeth. Once these more extensive procedures are completed, most patients require only regular cleanings (and good oral hygiene at home) to maintain good dental health.
Gum disease is often painless, so it can become quite advanced before you are aware of a problem. In addition, studies have found links between gum disease and other system health issues such as heart disease, so delaying treatment is not recommended.