The model of dentistry that many of us will be familiar with focuses on early detection of problems and rapid treatment. Regular check-ups are effective at picking up early signs of periodontal disease, dental caries and more serious problems like tongue and mouth cancers but they do nothing in themselves to prevent the occurrence of oral health problems.
Dentist Surrey, Bob Bhamra from Jiva Dental likens this to not looking after a car:
“This model of dentistry is like waiting for your car to break down before topping up the oil or pumping up the tyres. Of course it’s better for the car to have regular maintenance to reduce the risk of problems occurring in the first place and the same is true for your mouth and teeth. As such, there is a major thrust across the dental profession to move towards a model that promotes healthy behaviours that reduce the risk oral health problems occurring in the first instance.”
This branch of the profession is called Preventative Dentistry. Preventative Dental Care comprises a range of approaches that focus on promoting effective and efficient daily oral hygiene regimens, increasing people’s understanding of oral health and reducing refined sugars in the diet. The aim is to encourage people to brush and floss their teeth regularly and effectively, to time brushing appropriately with respect to meals and to eat a healthy diet that is low in sugar.
Typical Preventative Dental Care activities might involve educating mothers about their children’s oral care regimens in an attempt to reduce the rate of baby bottle caries syndrome or visiting schools to talk about the importance of healthy diets and regular brushing and flossing. Not all preventative strategies are at the level of the individual however; one of the most effective methods of reducing dental caries in the United Kingdom has been the fluoridisation of domestic water supplies.
So why should we take Preventative Dental Care seriously? Well, lots of reasons, all to do with our own health and well-being. The most obvious reason is that effective, regular brushing and flossing and a healthy diet has a major impact on the reduction of dental caries, or tooth decay. This in turn will reduce the occurrence of tooth ache and the need for drilling, fillings and extractions. Our gums also benefit from Preventative Dental Care. Regular brushing and flossing reduces the risk of developing gingivitis, gingival recession and periodontal disease. This in turn reduces the occurrence of bleeding gums and tooth loss.
A very important reason to take Preventative Dentistry seriously is that in a large proportion of the population the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and rheumatic heart disease is associated with the presence of periodontal disease. It seems that during episodes of gum disease, the bacteria that normally live around the teeth get into the blood stream and cause damage to the heart and blood vessel linings. Put simply, if we take care of our teeth and gums we reduce our risk of serious heart disease. Now that’s worth brushing your teeth for!