Family Dental Care Begins with Prevention
Dentists who specialize in family dental care are often seen as the first level of defense against dental abnormalities and disease. Regular preventive dental checkups provide routine cleaning and detection of oral health problems, but the patient is always an active partner in maintaining dental health.
Dental caries (decay) and periodontal (gum) disease are caused by bacteria. There are several ways to prevent damage by bacteria and to maintain oral health.
Fluoridation of water is perhaps the most effective tool for prevention of cavities. People who live in non-fluoridated communities or who use well water can supplement their children’s fluoride with prescribed daily supplements from a dentist or pediatrician.
Once the teeth have erupted topical fluoride application is recommended. A dentist or hygienist applies fluoride treatments via mouth trays or varnishes. Daily at-home use of mouthwashes and toothpaste that contain fluoride are also a good source.
Another very effective means of preventing decay is with the use of pit and fissure sealants. These are most often composite resin materials that are bonded onto the biting surfaces of teeth early in life. They prevent bacteria from getting into the grooves on the tooth where ninety percent of tooth decay starts.
With dental sealants and fluoride treatments, your dentist provides professional family dental care to protect teeth from decay. There are also things you can do at home to maintain oral health.
Food plays a big role in tooth decay. Most people have heard that “sweets cause decay.” But what is often not understood is that many other foods – almost all processed foods and many “health foods” – also cause decay. Beware of foods that are high in carbohydrates, sweet or not, especially those that stick to your teeth. Sipping sweetened beverages throughout the day introduces a steady wash of sugar to your teeth.
Choose snacks like raw vegetables, juicy fruit, and nuts that don’t stick to your teeth. Of course, brushing right after eating is the best way to avoid decay.
Note: Can’t brush? Chewing sugar-free gum is a good alternative because the stickiness of the gum and the saliva it stimulates actually helps remove and neutralize the harmful food particles.
Brushing and flossing are the most effective means of removing the food debris and plaque that lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. It takes approximately three minutes to thoroughly brush and floss. The goal is to physically remove the plaque from your teeth. Your family dentist or hygienist can show you how to brush and floss properly. Electric toothbrushes may make it easier to complete a thorough cleaning.
The bottom line is that tooth decay is for the most part preventable with proper oral hygiene, diet and the use of fluorides and sealants.
Remember, beautiful teeth are healthy teeth!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Capitol Hill DC dentist Dr. Halim will work with your family to set up good practices for healthy family dental care. Contact us to ask a question or request an appointment with Dr. Halim. We look forward to being in touch.