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Preventive Dentistry

“ An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”– Benjamin Franklin.

Did you know that a majority of the population in India suffers from tooth decay and gum disease? According to the World Health Organization(WHO), tooth decay and gum disease are two of the most widespread diseases causing a major health burden. The good news is that over 95% of all dental problems are preventable.

Prevention is the first step towards a healthy lifestyle. Seeking preventive health services whether medical or dental must become a habit in every family. It is only then that chronic diseases such as tooth decay and Gum Disease can be kept at bay.

“Catch them young “ as they say, helps enforce this essential concept of preventing diseases in children. It is important to understand that tooth decay is the result of bacteria using sugars to create acids that damage teeth. This is not an overnight process. Constant untimely snacking, poor oral hygiene like improper brushing and infrequent brushing can aggravate the damage to teeth.

Gum Disease is another chronic disease that plays a significant role in the deterioration of health. Evidence shows that gum disease like gingivitis and Periodontitis not only lead to tooth loss but can also affect the heart, worsen diabetes, cause kidney related ailments among many other health problems.

Periodic dental check up is therefore essential to diagnose an ongoing problem, treat an existing disease and prevent new ones from appearing. Early attention to signs like tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums, bad breath etc. can help prevent these chronic diseases.

Here is what a preventive dental care entails.

  • A. Routine dental check up: Assessment appointment as it is also known as features general oral health assessment.

  • B. Assessing Gingival/gum health: Probing around your gums helps check for areas of gum inflammation, assess the presence of ‘pockets’ within your gums that have occurred due to plaque accumulation. Mobile / Shaking teeth, Areas with gum recession, where the position of your gum has altered to a lower position leading to exposure of tooth roots. Assessing bad breath.

  • C. Assessing the health of teeth. Checking for the presence of tooth decay either in their initial stages (incipient / white spot lesion) or in their advanced stages can prevent permanent tooth damage. Older fillings usually show signs of wear or with lost integrity, which if spotted early can prevent major tooth damage.

Preventive dental treatment

  1. Regular cleaning of teeth: Done once every 6 months or a year, Professional Scaling / Oral Prophylaxis, remove plaque that has built up on your teeth and in areas that have been inaccessible to tooth brushing. This also brings your gums back to health. Adding a medicated mouth rinse to your regime of oral care along with a tongue cleaner and floss completes your oral care kit.

  2. Pit and fissure sealants. The biting surfaces/ Occlusal surfaces of your teeth have grooves and fissures that can occasionally trap food debris that makes for a haven for bacterial growth leading to tooth decay. Sealing these fissure or grooves with a special sealant makes brushing easy and effective decreasing the chance of developing tooth decay. P& F sealants are an essential preventive aid for children and adults.

  3. Fluoride application: Fluoride in drinking water reduces the chances of developing decay. This fact was established most than 60 years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan USA which was the world’s first city to adjust the level of fluoride in its water supply. Since that time, fluoridation has dramatically improved the oral health of millions of people around the world. Fluoride in water or systemically available fluoride is easily absorbed and is taken up into the enamel during pre-eruptive tooth formation stages. In erupted teeth, fluoride prevents decay development by acting locally on the tooth surface. Fluoridated toothpaste, Flouride gels, Fluoride varnishes aid in maintaining constant levels in saliva for a prolonged benefit.

Recent evidence states that complimentary decay preventive strategies such as topical fluoride application using Gels and varnishes, Pit and Fissure Sealants, diet counselling etc must be considered for every growing child.

How does fluoride varnish work?

  •  It slows down the development of decay by stopping demineralization
  •  Makes enamel more resistant to acid attack from bacteria in plaque & speeds up remineralization.
  •  Stops bacterial metabolism at high concentrations leading to less acid production.

Regular dental check up not only improves your oral health but also reduces unnecessary expenditure on emergency dental care.

Healthy Smiles... Better Lives...

Authored by DR.NIRANJAN P



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