We Practice Preventive Dentistry

Kathleen O’Connor Hanley R.D.H.

As you know, we work hard to educate our patients on how to take care of their teeth and keep them healthy for life. That education always begins with what we call our “plaque control” class. This is the class we give every patient at their first cleaning appointment. At this appointment, we explain what plaque is, what it does and instruct patients on how to get plaque free every 24 hours. This is the most important service that we provide for our patients. So many people brush and floss but aren’t really sure why. They often think that brushing and flossing is important for food removal but the true goal is to disorganize colonies of bacteria that produce acid (for more detailed info see Newsletter 2009 “Getting Plaque Free” on our website www.healthytoothteam.com).

We still really like the Rotadent automatic toothbrush as a tool to help get plaque free. There are many power brushes on the market but the small head size, soft bristles and pointed brush design make this our favorite. If I haven’t shown it to you already, ask me at your next cleaning.

Fluoride is another important part of our preventive plan. Fluoride can benefit teeth two ways. One way is ingesting fluoride; this is really only beneficial when the permanent teeth are forming. Once the teeth are formed, only topical fluoride is really beneficial. Topical application of fluoride on clean teeth can actually change the chemical make up of enamel and help make teeth more resistant to decay. It can also help with sensitivity due to recession, erosion or abfraction. We recommend our patients rinse with a prescription strength fluoride rinse when they have their teeth cleaned because it is absorbed best by clean teeth. We often recommend ACT home fluoride rinse for home use or a prescription strength gel for those with high caries rate, sensitivity and/or recession. When used properly, it is an extremely effective part of dental disease prevention but it is not without its controversies, which you can read more about in another article I wrote (2009 Newsletter, “Fluoride Supplements” posted on our website www.healthytoothteam.com).

Proper diet choices play a big part in dental health as well. We educate our patients to know that disrupting colonies of plaque is the most important thing but avoiding excessive sugar and dietary acid exposure is important as well. A more in depth discussion of dietary issues can be found in “Juice Beware” in the 2008 Newsletter, on our website www.healthytoothteam.com.

Once we have achieved tooth and gum health with our patients, maintenance becomes the emphasis. Each patient is assessed and a maintenance schedule is suggested based on individual results. Some patients are prescribed the standard 6 month schedule, but we have many patients that come every 3-4 months due to their dental condition. Keeping your appointments at the recommended intervals is a vital part of the preventive plan.