We now know just how much our oral health impacts our overall quality of life. So what are we going to do about it?
The science is clear: good oral hygiene practices, such as regular brushing, flossing and dental visits, are closely linked to good health.
That’s a simple but profound concept. And it means that with a simple (but diligently-applied) self-care regimen, as well as regular dental checkups, outstanding oral health outcomes can be achieved.
That is the power of preventive dentistry, also known as ‘proactive intervention’ dentistry, ‘holistic dentistry’, and a slew of other names.
Whatever it’s called, there’s no arguing with the results, says Simon Templeman, dentist and clinical practice leader at Simply Dental.
“Our approach is to focus on the whole person for effective self-care,” says Simon, “working with the patient to develop a highly personalized preventive care schedule.”
“We’ll help you decide what the best home-based prevention actions are for you, and when you come in, we’ll focus on the best, minimally invasive actions that can prevent future expense and discomfort.”
So what’s the first step in developing an effective, prevention-focused approach to oral health?
Routine dental exams, cleaning and maintenance is the backbone of Simply Dental’s approach to preventive care.
“During your first visit, we’ll take the time to get to know you, what your goals are, and what kind of at-home maintenance plan will suit you best,” says Simon.
“If there are any outstanding issues that require intervention, we can decide what the best, minimally invasive treatment that stops further problems and restores the tooth to its normal function will be.”
After that, regular appointments ensure that your self-care actions are well-supported, with any emergent issues identified quickly.
“How often you need to see us will depend on your specific needs and wants, but typically, at least two visits per year are best to avoid preventable dental issues and extra costs.”
With a schedule established, prevention and maintenance care services can include:
- Dietary support and advice
- Personal oral hygiene advice and instruction
- Cleaning and removal of plaque build-up
- Stain removal
- Polishing fillings to maximise their function, durability and appearance
- Coatings to protect vulnerable and/or sensitive surfaces
- Fluoride treatments
Brush with destiny
The conventional wisdom that regular tooth brushing is a necessity for healthy teeth still stands today: to prevent cavities from occurring, plaque – the sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms on our teeth – needs to be removed.
The best way to do this is by brushing your teeth.
And there’s a lot more at stake than just teeth. There’s a strong body of evidence for the whole body benefits of regular brushing. Regular tooth brushing is strongly linked with heart health in particular, with the European Society of Cardiology finding very regular tooth brushing (three to four times a day) associated with a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12% lower risk of heart failure over time.
Brush at least twice daily and change your toothbrush every 3 – 4 months.
The F word
Flossing also plays a key role in a preventive self-care routine.
The mouth can house millions of bacteria and other germs, many of which end up trapped in between teeth. Flossing helps remove this bacteria – as well as other food debris – from the areas that brushing can’t get to.
Regular flossing also prevents bacteria from turning into plaque, a sticky yellowish deposit on teeth which stains and damages them over time.
If that wasn’t enough, flossing also prevents gingivitis and other forms of periodontal disease, which is often quite reversible with diligent home care
At Simply Dental we recommend you floss daily.
Prevention is always better than cure. It’s also healthier, costs less and is more comfortable too. Some insurance plans cover preventive care.
“Our main objective is to support you to be healthy which is why we focus on dental health services rather than dental disease fixing services,” says Simon.
“Our clinical team will work with you to ensure that your care plan is focussed on getting you to a happy, healthy, and functional place and keep you there with effective prevention and maintenance care and a self-care plan.”