Many individuals avoid trips to the dentist out of discomfort, fear, and inconvenience. However, regular check-ups and cleanings are crucial aspects of preventative dentistry. Gritting your teeth– metaphorically only please– and attending regular appointments will have positive impacts on not only your overall health, but also your wallet.
Here are some important aspects of preventative dentistry and why they matter.
Facts and Statistics on Preventative Dentistry
While overall dental health has improved drastically over the years, we still have a way to go. According to research compiled by Fraserview Dentist, the last 40 years has seen an increase in annual dentist visits from 49.5 percent of the population to 74.5 percent in Canada. Around 80 percent of Canadians have a dentist, with 85.7 percent visiting at least biannually. In many parts of the country, children under ten years of age can visit the dentist at no cost to the parents.
On the negative side of things, nearly half of the Canadians who haven’t scheduled an appointment with their dentist in the past 12 months have gum disease. One in three Canadians require dental work of some sort. Preventative dentistry visits and habits at home will help save money by reducing the need for more expensive procedures like root canals, fillings, crowns, dentures, and cosmetic procedures.
Flossing and Brushing
If you attend the dentist regularly, you’ll be familiar with the questions regarding how often you floss and brush your teeth. Many patients brush their teeth regularly, but can’t be bothered to floss daily as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association. When you fail to floss, you leave bacteria and food remnants that cannot be reached by your toothbrush. These leftovers harden into tartar and ultimately cause gum disease. By failing to floss you fail to reach one-third of your tooth while cleaning.
Most people prefer to brush in the morning and at night before bed. In reality, brushing after every meal is the best choice for removing bacteria and practicing optimal preventative dentistry. Be sure to use a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste for best results.
Regular dental cleanings take a more involved and detailed approach to the preventative measures you take at home. During a cleaning, your dental hygienist will be able to better reach all parts of your teeth and gums while identifying areas you have trouble reaching. In doing so, they improve your mindfulness while brushing, helping you target those areas and prevent future plaque build-ups.
Dental cleanings also include a fluoride application to strengthen your teeth, beyond what a commercial toothpaste will be able to do. They will also perform scaling to ensure your teeth are “deep cleaned” and free of tartar and bacteria that can ultimately cause gum disease and even heart disease. Dental cleanings are largely covered by medical insurance plans.
Disease and Infection Screening
One of the most important aspects of preventive dentistry is the dentist’s ability to screen for oral cancer and other diseases that convey symptoms orally. Oral cancer screening is particularly important as early detection is crucial for effective treatment and the prevention of spreading.
Dentists are also capable of detecting more common ailments that aren’t directly tied to the mouth. For example, during a screening, they may be able to detect reflux-related lesions at the back of the throat, which can help patients differentiate between heartburn and a more serious condition. Dentists may also find indicators of anemia and diabetes, based on the colouration of the gums and textural changes within the mouth. Oral changes can be indicative of anything from stress to eating disorders, which may otherwise go unaddressed by health professionals.
Prevention is the best medicine in all aspects of health, oral health included. If you haven’t booked an appointment with your dentist already, take a moment and do so now.