What Is Preventive Dental Care?
Preventive dentistry is essential to your oral and overall health. When used in conjunction with good at-home brushing and flossing habits, regular cleanings and oral exams can help keep your smile beautiful and free from decay. During routine exams in Lafayette, we’ll be able to monitor your oral health and address any minor concerns before they become larger issues.
Did You Know…
Oral wellbeing is deeply connected to your overall health.
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What To Expect At Your Preventive Dental Care Appointment
We will perform a thorough cleaning of your teeth and gums. Using specialized tools, we'll gently remove any plaque and tartar buildup, and floss between your teeth in all of those hard-to-reach areas. We’ll round out your cleaning by polishing your teeth, and applying fluoride if necessary, leaving your smile refreshed and revitalized.
Any Necessary X-Rays
Your oral health is more than just what's on the surface. X-rays allow us to see more than what we can with our eyes alone, for more accurate diagnoses and treatment planning. So if you’re new to our Lafayette office, or it’s just been a while since you’ve had them taken, x-rays may be a part of your preventive visit.
Comprehensive Exam & Treatment Plan
In addition to reviewing your x-rays, your dentist will also perform an in-depth visual inspection of your teeth and gums. If there are any noticeable issues, your dentist will discuss them with you, and provide treatment options to help guide your next steps. We prioritize patient education so you can make the decision that’s best for you and your smile.
Whether you're simply scheduling a regular cleaning or a follow-up appointment for additional treatment, our team is here for you! We take the time to educate you and answer any questions you may have about your treatment, insurance, financing, or anything else that comes to mind, so every Lafayette visit is streamlined and stress-free.
Preventive Treatment Options
Cleaning & Hygiene
Regular teeth cleanings and hygiene appointments are the foundation of preventive dental care. During your cleaning, we will thoroughly cleanse your teeth and gums, removing any plaque or debris from every surface in your mouth. You’ll even be able reverse minor stains to keep your smile bright and beautiful. We recommend scheduling routine cleanings and exams every six months for most patients.
However, good oral hygiene shouldn’t stop when you leave our office. Keeping up with your at-home brushing and flossing routine is equally as important as attending professional cleanings, and is the best way to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Use a fluoride-rich toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time; and don’t forget to floss! Flossing at least once every day, ideally before going to bed, helps to get rid of food particles, plaque, and bacteria that can’t be removed with brushing alone.
Digital x-rays are safe, quick, and comfortable. Using the latest technology, we can create crisp, high-resolution images of your mouth’s structure, so we can make accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. Digital x-rays use only a fraction of the radiation as traditional film x-rays, so you can rest easy. Most patients receive one or two full sets of x-rays every year, but we may recommend additional imaging in the case of a dental emergency, or if we find an oral health issue that we need to investigate further.
Fluoride treatments are one of the best ways to keep dental decay at bay. A simple, non-invasive procedure, fluoride treatments help to keep your enamel strong. After your cleaning, we’ll apply a fluoride-rich varnish or gel; we may ask you to refrain from eating or drinking anything for 30 minutes or so following your visit. Fluoride helps kickstart a process called “remineralization,” which restores essential minerals like calcium and phosphates to your teeth, keeping your enamel hard and resistant to acids, like those that cause tooth decay.
Dental sealants are a great way for patients to protect their teeth from decay. Dental sealants are often recommended for children, but can still be a great option for patients of all ages. Plus, dental sealants can provide protection for your teeth for years after being applied.
Applying dental sealants is a quick, non-invasive procedure that utilizes a dental resin that is applied to the molars. The uneven surface of molars, which are located in the rear of the mouth, are filled with grooves where plaque and bacteria can flourish. After application, the resin is cured with a UV light, causing it to harden into a powerful barrier between your teeth and the foods, drinks, acid, and bacteria that lead to decay.
Gum disease is extremely common, and can result in an array of oral health problems if left untreated, even including bone resorption and tooth loss. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It's also the only stage that can be truly reversed with deep cleanings and good at-home hygiene. If you are diagnosed with gingivitis, it is still possible to regain control of your oral health by staying on top of your regular cleanings, checkups, and at-home care.
More advanced stages of gum disease, called periodontitis, have irreversible effects on your oral health, such as gum recession and bone loss. However, the progression of periodontitis can be stopped in its tracks, even if the effects cannot be reversed, though it requires more advanced and frequent treatment. Most Lafayette patients will require deep cleaning sessions every three to four months. Treatments can include deep cleanings, scaling and root planing, and laser therapy, and can help preserve your oral health.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Oral cancer screenings are a part of every preventive visit, and are a quick way to fortify your peace of mind. Through consistent exams, we can catch oral cancer early on, which gives us a better chance at treating it before it spreads. A routine oral cancer screening from our Lafayette practice can even save your life!
Your dentist will examine your gums, tongue, and the rest of the soft tissues in your mouth, keeping an eye out for lesions and other abnormalities like lumps and discolorations. If there is anything that concerns us, we may recommend getting a biopsy, which will be analyzed by a specialist to determine the cause of the abnormality. Regular oral cancer screenings allow us to identify any potential problems before they become major issues.
Unconscious teeth grinding and clenching, known as bruxism, is a common issue that tends to happen at night while patients are asleep. However, night guards can help patients alleviate symptoms of bruxism by creating a barrier between your teeth that protects them from grinding-related damage. Depending on the severity of the case, night guards can be made from several different materials with varying degrees of softness.
To get fitted for a night guard, you will receive impressions or digital scans of your teeth and gums that we will use to custom-craft a mold that will then be sent to the lab. Your night guard will be created to match your exact specifications and measurements for a perfect fit. Night guards ease tension in your jaw, alleviating the painful headaches and preventing dental damage caused by clenching and grinding. Night guards can keep your smile healthy and help you get the restful sleep you need.
Sports guards are worn over the teeth, and are specifically designed to protect your mouth from oral trauma caused by high-impact sports. Many sports put players at risk for dental injuries caused by collisions to the mouth, face, or head, but a custom-fitted sports guard can help protect you from chipping, cracking, or knocking out a tooth. Tailored to fit your unique smile, sports guards are both comfortable and durable, so you can play the sports you love without missing a beat.
A sports guard is essential if you’re an athlete who plays football, basketball, baseball, soccer, rugby, hockey, gymnastics, mountain biking, or if you participate in any other activities that put you at risk for injury due to falling, body contact, or flying objects.
Did You Know…
25% of adults in the U.S. have at least one cavity.
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Have Questions About Preventive Dentistry? Find Answers Here.
How do I brush my teeth properly?
Brushing is an integral part of keeping up with your oral health, and proper technique makes it even more effective. We recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Be sure to hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and, using small, circular strokes, clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of each tooth, spending about 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth. Use an ADA-approved toothpaste that is rich in fluoride, and replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every 3-4 months, or when the bristles begin fraying or looking worn.
How do I floss properly?
Daily flossing is just as essential as daily brushing when it comes to keeping up with your oral health. Flossing is easy once you know the proper technique, and can dislodge plaque, bacteria, and food particles that you can’t reach with a toothbrush alone, and is the best way to keep gum disease at bay. To properly floss, gather about 24 inches of dental floss, and wind most of it around an index or middle finger. Wrap the remaining few inches around the index finger of your other hand, keeping about 1-inch of floss taut between your hands. Gently glide the floss between your teeth, being careful not to force it, as it can slip and damage your gums. If you’re having trouble getting the floss between your teeth, try a gentle side-to-side rocking motion instead. Once the floss is between your teeth, follow the c-shaped curve of the tooth and slide it into the gum line, and repeat for both sides of every tooth. Also, be sure to wind a new 1-inch section of floss between teeth to help prevent the spread of bacteria.
What's the difference between prophylactic cleanings and periodontal cleanings?
Prophylactic cleanings, also called preventive or “regular” cleanings, are performed during your routine dental appointments. They should be scheduled every 6 months, and are essential in helping to prevent decay, gum disease, and to keep your breath fresh. During these cleanings, we’ll remove any plaque, tartar, or bacterial buildup and floss between your teeth to ensure your continued oral health. Periodontal cleanings, sometimes referred to as “deep cleanings,” are for patients with periodontal, or gum, disease. These cleaning sessions are more thorough, and are aimed at halting the progression of gum disease. Your Lafayette dentist or hygienist will scrape away any plaque or tartar buildup from between your teeth and below the gum line. They may also carefully smooth out the roots of your teeth, to eliminate pockets that trap bacteria and allow gum disease to flourish.
Is preventive care covered by dental insurance?
Most dental insurance policies fully cover routine preventive care like cleanings, exams, and x-rays. However, some plans may only partially cover preventive dental care. Certain policies may even cover optional treatments, like dental sealants and fluoride treatments. The best way to find out what your plan covers is to review your policy or get in touch with your provider for specific details. Or, you can give us a call today to speak with one of our friendly team members to see how we can help you maximize your benefits.
Did You Know…
Save yourself money, time, and future dental pain by keeping up with your preventive care.