Although the dentist’s office is often seen as a place to go when something has gone awry, dentistry is about far more than correcting issues with teeth. Dentistry’s goal is to give patients the confidence in their general health that comes from the pursuit of optimal oral health.
Why is prevention so important in maintaining your oral health?
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Trite though it may sound, preventing declining oral health is far preferable to treatment. This old adage has never been more true than when it comes to your dental health. When symptoms show up, it’s usually too late as damage and inflammation have already overtaken the body. Excess inflammation can make the recovery and restoration processes difficult and prolonged.
Routine teeth cleanings are an important part of dental hygiene and prevention. Routine cleanings help you and your dental team stay on top of any issues as they arise. Cleanings also include routine exams to check for the signs and symptoms of oral cancer, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Practicing simple dental care is another simple source of prevention and health maintenance. Brushing and flossing teeth every day and using fluoridated toothpaste are the absolute baseline for maintaining oral hygiene. Salt water rinses and other mouthwashes can also help keep oral health in good shape.
Staying on Top of Concerns
If you want to stop the onset of other diseases, or the worsening of what already ails you, you must stay vigilant and take care of your current issues. Let’s say your dentist identifies a small hole during a routine teeth cleaning. It is vital to make sure you are keeping a close eye on the decay. Left untreated or ignored, a small hole can turn into advanced tooth decay.
Cavities are the most common type of dental disease. Cavities (also identified as “dental caries”) occur when enamel is worn down and targeted by bacteria. Bacteria breaks into the enamel and spreads. Left unchecked, bacteria will eventually reach the innermost portions of the tooth. You must begin the correct treatment rapidly, or it will be impossible to prevent root canals, or possibly the loss of the entire tooth.
What Causes Cavities?
Cavities are caused by bacteria, but it is the food that you eat and the dental hygiene habits you practice that either feed or starve that bacteria. Bacteria live in your mouth; it’s a symbiotic relationship. When diets high in carbohydrates and sugars are present, that symbiosis is threatened. With enough food and improper or inadequate cleaning practices, bacteria multiply and erode enamel. This erosion is responsible for the development of cavities.
Preventing Cavities Before They Occur
Adequate oral hygiene is the best preventive measure against cavities. If you want to make sure you have optimal oral health, brush twice a day and floss (at least once). Hygiene can also involve more targeted treatments. Regular professional cleanings, fluoride rinses, and ongoing treatment for gum disease, bruxism, and other oral health concerns can all be important parts of maintaining strong oral hygiene practices.
Many people do not link gum and tooth sensitivity and decay. Unfortunately, issues in one part of the mouth quickly and easily lead to issues in other areas of your oral cavity.
How Much Does a Filling Cost?
The out-of-pocket cost of a dental filling ranges from less than $100 or over $1,000, depending on the severity of the cavity and the materials involved. The true cost of a filling, however, is far greater.
Every time you have a filling, your teeth grow weaker. If you do this enough, your teeth can crack or break entirely. Cracking and breaking require more dramatic interventions. Fillings are powerful tools but should not be relied upon as a quick fix instead of enforcing better oral hygiene and improving your diet.
Preventing Gum Disease
Gum disease is another common ailment seen in dentist’s offices. Gum disease comes in two forms. The initial form is called gingivitis. The advanced condition is called periodontal disease. In both, gums are inflamed and infected. When time passes without treatment, there are several conditions that may develop. With untreated gum disease, patients can count on experiencing bad breath, tooth loss, and even bone loss.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by several combined factors. Genetic predisposition, inadequate oral hygiene, and inflammation can all cause gum disease. Ultimately, infection is the real culprit that allows gum disease to persist.
Little “pockets” start to form between your teeth if the gums stay inflamed. Plaque and debris settle in these pockets. This further ignites inflammation and infection. When gums continue to recede, the tissue is damaged further. Extremely damaged tissue means the disease becomes far worse.
The Fallout from Gum Disease
The fallout from gum disease is substantial. The initial stages of gum disease may cause inflammation in the gums, discomfort while brushing and flossing, and a sour taste in the mouth. Gum disease that goes untreated will progress and result in receding gums, bleeding tissues, bad breath, and loose teeth. The late stage of the disease progresses until teeth eventually become dislodged. Dislodged teeth may eventually lead to permanent tooth loss and eventual bone loss.
Tooth Extraction Cost
The cost of extracting teeth that have become dislodged or decayed as a result of gum disease ranges from several hundred to well over $1,000. Replacing damaged teeth with dentures, bridges, or implants is far more expensive. Some restoration projects exceed tens of thousands of dollars. The true cost of gum disease is far greater than a few hundred dollars or a little bit of blood during daily flossing.
Dental Prevention and General Health
In the past, oral health has largely been considered separate from the body’s health overall. Emerging research suggests that oral health and general health are inextricably linked. Letting oral health issues go unchecked is hazardous. Oral health issues can quickly result in health issues elsewhere in the body. Diabetes, cardiovascular damage, and links to other issues have been found.
Preventing cavities and damage is about far more than having a winning smile. Oral health care can actually mean the difference between maintaining a healthy body and struggling with chronic disease.