While proper home care is the first step in maintaining oral health, it is essential to have professional cleanings every six months, or more frequently depending on the need. These visits, referred to as “dental prophylaxis”, are generally performed by a board certified dental hygienist whose training specializes in keeping patients maintained in optimum oral health. A dental hygienist uses special instruments to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from those hard to reach areas and reinforces proper preventive home care techniques. These visits should be maintained at least every six months to insure that periodontal health (that of the gums) is maintained. During these visits the dentist also performs an exam of the entire mouth to insure that oral health is properly maintained.
One key component of oral health prevention is protecting the deeply grooved teeth in the back of the mouth. These deep grooves and fissures are susceptible to sticky foods and bacteria and can form cavities. Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. Sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.
Through the use of x-rays, dentists are able to diagnose many diseases of the oral cavity. This technology is an essential element of proper diagnosis, and used in very small doses, is a safe tool to provide proper care. The newest radiography available uses digital technology to capture a very precise image while subjecting the patient to a smaller dose of radiation.
Used as a topical agent, fluoride actually has the ability to re-mineralize areas of teeth that have begun to decay, and halt further progression of disease. Fluoride is present in toothpaste, and can be applied in higher dosages in varnish and gels by a dental professional.
Athletic mouth guards that are form fitted to the teeth prevent trauma to the teeth during athletic activity. Custom mouth guards fabricated from a dentist not only provide the most protection to the teeth, but have a better ability to remain in place, making it easier for the athlete to breathe and speak during athletic activity.