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General Dentists – Educating Patients About Preventative Care
General dentists have many roles, and one is to educate patients about preventative care. Taking good care of the teeth and gums is important for a number of reasons, because poor oral health can lead to more serious medical problems.
Types of preventative care
There are different ways to prevent cavities and gum disease, and preventative measures can be done both in the office and at home.
Good oral hygiene
One of the biggest ways general dentists educate their patients is by teaching good oral hygiene. This begins at an early age, and many dental professionals recommend parents begin brushing a baby’s teeth and gums as soon as the first tooth makes an appearance. It is recommended that kids brush twice a day and floss once a day. For adults, a minimum of twice daily brushing and flossing is recommended to get rid of food particles, bacteria and plaque.
While brushing and flossing are effective in reducing plaque and other harmful substances, it is often difficult to eliminate them all. That is why visiting the dentist for regular cleanings is important. General dentists have the tools that can get rid of stubborn, sticky and hard plaque, so it helps support home care. Adults should have a dental cleaning twice a year.
Dental exams and X-rays
During the cleaning visit, general dentists will also perform an oral exam. This includes looking at the teeth, gums and tongue and examining the teeth for decay. During these visits, the dentist can see if the patient has any signs of gum disease. If so, preventative advice can be given to make sure it does not get worse. About once a year, general dentists will also take X-rays of the teeth. These help dentists see things not visible to the human eye, and these include
- Bone damage from a tooth cyst or infection
- Bone loss
- Areas of decay between fillings and teeth
- Developmental defects
- Impacted teeth
- Position of erupting teeth in children
The results of X-rays can help dentists identify problems before becoming really serious. This can potentially save the patient discomfort and money.
General dentists often recommend sealants for children and susceptible adults. These are thin layers of plastic that provide a barrier to food and bacteria. Sealants have been shown to reduce tooth decay and prevent cavities.
Oral cancer screenings
During regular checkups, dentists offer oral cancer screenings, which can be lifesaving. This screening is done by examining the gums, tongue and cheeks for potential lesions. This test also uses advanced technology to see abnormalities that are not always visible through other methods. Although dentists recommend everyone get this screening, there is a higher risk in people who smoke or drink alcohol.
What one eats also affects oral health, which is why general dentists often incorporate nutrition into patient education. Generally, dental professionals warn that sugary and sticky food and sugary drinks can increase the chances of decay and that patients with braces or sealants should stay away from hard foods.
If people are wondering how to prevent cavities and other oral problems, general dentists are good sources of information. This includes recommending things to do at home and providing beneficial in-office services.
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