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Proper Dental Care Prevents Many Problems

Some ideas to chew on

iStock_000016075749_FullModern dentistry has come a long way since its beginnings in the early modern period of history in Europe, where dental treatment involved mainly removal or filling of diseased teeth alone. Benjamin Franklin, the famous scientist and inventor, once remarked that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This axiom is no more widely applied than in healthcare now, where the prevention of disease is as important as its treatment.

Preventive dentistry is the branch of modern dentistry that promotes the practice of keeping your teeth and mouth healthy, in order to help avoid irreversible damage from tooth decay and gum disease, the two main culprits that result in loss of teeth. Having a healthy dentition can save you from additional visits to the dentist in order to receive the treatment needed to restore damaged teeth and replace lost teeth.

Common Dental Problems

  1. Gum Disease

It has been shown in recent studies that poor oral health can negatively affect our general health. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that starts in the gums but also causes subsequent bone destruction and results in loss of teeth. This disease may even be related to inflammatory damage in other parts of our body. Recent studies report an association between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and in pregnant women, a possibly increased incidence of having premature, low birth-weight babies.

Gum disease is a treatable and preventable condition which involves having the parts of your teeth below the gums, which is difficult to reach with routine tooth brushing alone, cleaned by a dentist at regular intervals so that bacterial accumulation in these critical regions is kept to a level that is manageable by our body’s natural defenses.

  1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is another common dental problem that can affect anyone with teeth, right from the day our very first baby teeth erupt. Dentists generally recommend that this problem can be minimised by reducing the frequency and amount of sugary snacks and drinks in our diet. Sugary snacks can be substituted by fruits, nuts, cheese and salads, which are healthier for both your teeth and your body.

Infants and toddlers are particularly prone to having a form of tooth decay that is termed ‘early childhood caries’. This refers to the presence of multiple decayed baby teeth commonly caused by the prolonged sucking of milk or sweetened drinks in a milk bottle as a comforter to sleep.iStock_000013029097_Full

The introduction of public water fluoridation and the widespread use of fluoride toothpastes have reduced the incidence of tooth decay in many parts of the world as fluoride has the ability to prevent tooth decay by strengthening the minerals that protect our teeth and can even reverse early stages of tooth decay. Fluoride in other forms may be prescribed or professionally applied by your dentist if you are at higher risk of suffering from tooth decay; this is usually assessed by having a ‘caries risk assessment’ profile done. This involves the assessment of several parameters including your salivary flow rate, number of decayed and filled teeth, and diet, to name a few.

  1. Cracked Teeth

Even though our teeth are the hardest known naturally occurring substance in man, it is never wise to test that by trying to bite through crab or nut shells instead of using a crab or nut cracker! On a more serious note, cracked teeth are now one of the leading causes of tooth loss in industrialised countries. Cracked teeth occur more commonly in people who grind, clench their teeth or chew hard objects habitually. Teeth that have large fillings in them or that have undergone root canal treatment are at higher risk of cracking. Your dentist may fabricate a removable guard for you to wear to reduce such stresses on your teeth.

  1. Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth commonly grow in an awkward fashion and become jammed against the neighboring teeth. When exposed to the oral environment, these teeth are known to potentially cause tooth decay, gum disease or severe infections. This is why they are commonly surgically removed to prevent such possible future problems.

  1. Crooked Teeth

Teeth that are crowded together and uneven can be difficult to clean. Furthermore, front teeth which are frequently squeezed forwards may be more prone to accidental knocks which can injure them. Braces treatment or Invisalign® can be done to align teeth and prevent the problems associated with crooked teeth.

iStock_000021343178_LargeBrush up on Oral Health

Glean some pearls of wisdom from these Frequently Asked Questions on the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ of proper dental care.

HOW do I care for my teeth properly at home?

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day or after meals will regularly remove any plaque buildup which causes tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Ask your dentist for advice on proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques.

HOW often should I go for routine dental visits? WHAT can I expect during these visits?Close up of woman flossing

  • Generally, most dentists advise regular checkups once every six months or at the very least once a year, since most dental conditions are painless at first and may go undetected until extensive treatment becomes necessary.
  • During routine visits, your dentist will usually clean your teeth in the areas that you cannot reach, especially under the gums.
  • X-rays may be taken as part of the examination process to detect deeper problems.
  • Oral cancer screening is usually done as part of the dental checkup by observing for any sign of abnormal tissues.

WHAT medical conditions/history would demand more attention to my oral Girl on examination at dentisthealth?

  • Diabetes
  • Previous radiation therapy to the head and neck region
  • Previous organ transplantation and on long-term immunosuppressive therapy
  • Smoker
  • Dry mouth

WHAT dental products or devices should I use to care for my teeth?

  • Many types of fluoride-containing toothpastes are available. Choose one that suits your needs.
  • Mouthwashes can be used in addition to tooth brushing and flossing, but should not replace brushing and flossing. If you are at risk of gum disease or tooth decay, your dentist can recommend the type of mouthwash that would suit you.

WHAT other preventive measures can I take besides using dental products?

  • Reduce your intake of sugary snacks and drinks.
  • If you habitually grind or clench your teeth, you can ask your dentist for a mouth guard to protect your teeth from cracking.
  • If you are involved in contact sports, you can have a mouth guard made for you to wear to cushion any accidental impacts and reduce your risk of breaking your teeth.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting. Smokers are at higher risk of gum disease as well as oral cancer.

WHEN should I start my child on dental care?

  • Tooth brushing should start as soon as the first tooth erupts, and visiting a paediatric dentist from an early age is generally advised.
  • You can ask your dentist about sealants, which are placed on your child’s teeth to help protect the vulnerable parts from tooth decay.
Dr Debbie Hong is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon with Specialist Dental Group®. She received her training in the specialty area of oral and maxillofacial surgery from the National University of Singapore (NUS). Dr Hong was the recipient of the Silver Jubilee Award by NUS Dental Society for her outstanding performance. For more information, visit
Posted by ezyhealth on Oct 13 2014. Filed under Dental Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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