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Preventive Dentistry: What is Preventive Dental Care?

Explore preventive dentistry and its vast lifelong advantages. Learn its essence, and how it affects overall dental health with Flossy's guide.

Last updated on

August 29, 2023

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Preventive Dentistry: What is Preventive Dental Care?

Getting a cavity treated through a filling or a root canal is a standard procedure that your dentist will be happy to give you. Still, it’s a lot more convenient on your end if you never have to deal with the discomfort, pain, and cost associated with poor oral health. 

Preventive dentistry is dental care that maintains good oral health. It’s a combination of regular, routine exams as well as the development of healthy habits like brushing and flossing. It might include teeth cleaning, fluoride treatments, X-rays, and regular oral check-ups. 

Proper oral hygiene can save you money, time, stress, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the top benefits of preventive dentistry, as well as how you can take big steps toward improving your own oral health.

1. Reduces Risk of Oral Diseases

The first and foremost important reason for preventive dentistry is to lower your risk of developing oral diseases. By working to brush or floss regularly, as well as going to see your dentist every six months, you can find problems before they spiral into something serious.

Getting gingivitis (gum disease), a cavity or another form of tooth decay can be a painful, uncomfortable experience. But by practicing proper oral hygiene, you can mitigate the risk of developing these so you can live a happier, healthier life all around.

2. Can Save You Money

Plus, when you can prevent these diseases from occurring, you prevent the need to get surgeries or procedures done to fix them. In many cases, these procedures will at least require you to pay part of your insurance deductible. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll be stuck paying out of pocket for the costs.

Dental care can be expensive, and accessibility is a country-wide concern. Routine procedures like root canals can cost thousands of dollars out of pocket. This is entirely inaccessible for many people without insurance. Even with insurance, co-pays and monthly premiums might not even make it worth it.

If you do need to get dental care, you don’t need insurance to save big. Flossy is a pay-as-you-go service that can save you up to 50% off on common dental treatments, from root canals to teeth whitening procedures. No membership fees, no annual premiums, and no waiting period to get started.

Our dentists are all rigorously vetted against a set of strict criteria; you can have faith that you’re getting top-quality care every step of the way. Seek out a dentist in your area and get started toward the happiest and healthiest version of your smile.

3. Professional Guidance and Evaluation

While you can practice preventive dentistry at home by brushing and flossing, nothing really beats getting professional assistance from a licensed dentist. When you see a dentist twice a year, you’re getting consistent monitoring of your oral health to prevent and reverse problems right when they arise.

There are lots of things that you might miss on your own. While cavities can sometimes show themselves because they cause some pain and discomfort, they sometimes sneak under the radar. Your dentist can nip issues in the bud quickly and effectively to improve your overall health.

4. Pinpoint Possibly Life-Threatening Diseases

Oral cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers diagnosed each year, and it is a deadly disease that often goes undetected because the symptoms can often not be felt — they have to be seen. When you visit a dentist twice a year for a cleaning and oral exam, your dentist is able to check for signs of oral cancer and potentially save your life. 

Gingivitis and other oral diseases can contribute to health conditions such as:

  • Pneumonia
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart)
  • Pregnancy complications

5. More Confidence

While diseases and tooth decay can put your overall health in jeopardy, another benefit of preventive dentistry is that it can make your teeth look good. Your dentist will clean and polish your teeth every time you visit for a checkup, so you can leave with a noticeably brighter smile that can boost your self-esteem.

Your smile is one of the first things that people notice about you, so having a strong one can help you have stronger relationships and make you feel more comfortable with your own body.

How To Maintain Proper Oral Health

The benefits of preventive dentistry are long-lasting and can help you avoid problems for the rest of your life. But what exactly do you need to do in order to keep your teeth in top shape?

Brush and Floss Daily

You might be tired of hearing your dentist remind you to brush your teeth and floss twice a day, but these are necessary additions to your daily routine to prevent problems and ensure you protect your overall health.

When it comes to brushing, ensure you’re doing it right. First and foremost, use a soft-bristled toothbrush so you don’t risk scraping away your tooth enamel or irritating your gums. Additionally, be sure to spend two minutes brushing, ideally putting about 30 seconds of love into each quadrant of your mouth so that you don’t miss a spot.

Brush with gentle, circular motions (with a fluoride toothpaste approved by the ADA) around the teeth and gums. And don’t forget to brush your tongue to help fight bad breath.

After you brush, don’t forget to floss. 20% of Americans reported that they never floss; this is one of the main contributors to periodontal disease. Flossing removes food particles from between your teeth that brushing might have missed. This reduces the risk of causing cavities or irritation from that food being turned into plaque by surrounding bacteria.

If you want some extra credit, you can use some mouthwash. Mouthwash helps kill bacteria in your mouth that lead to bad breath, and many rinses contain fluoride, a natural mineral to help protect your enamel. It is not a substitute for brushing or flossing, but using mouthwash can add an extra layer of protection from oral health problems.

Avoid Smoking and Tobacco Products

Smoking is a leading cause of oral cancer and gum disease. Even though it’s a habit that can be challenging to kick, it can have a multitude of benefits for your oral health and beyond. Avoiding cigarettes and tobacco products altogether is the goal, but even if you can try to cut down on your usage, you should start to notice improvements in your teeth and gums.

If you need help quitting, you can try to subvert your urges by chewing on a piece of candy or another substance to satisfy the oral fixation. You can also work to avoid triggers, such as cups of coffee or drinking alcohol if you happen to smoke whenever you also consume these substances.

Limit Acidic Foods

Your enamel is sort of like a natural defense against the inner portions of your teeth. But once your enamel wears away, it can’t grow back. Keeping it strong is essential. You can do this by limiting the amount of acidic and sugary foods you consume that can have a negative effect on your teeth.

Acidic foods like citrus fruits, hot sauce, and coffee or tea can decay your enamel by stripping away the outer layers. Sugary foods like candy, ice cream, cake, and cereal can also harm your enamel by enhancing the amount of enamel-eating bacteria on the surface of your teeth.

Drink More Water

Drinking water can help you take care of your teeth and improve your overall health by avoiding dehydration and flushing out toxins. Beyond that, drinking water can wash out some of the negative buildup effects of sticky, sugary, or acidic foods throughout the day when you’re not necessarily brushing your teeth.

Most drinking water is fortified with fluoride, which is a mineral that helps to keep your enamel strong (along with dental sealants from your provider). While the amount of fluoride in most drinking water is minimal, it can still benefit your oral health.

Eat Crunchy Foods

Crunch fruits and vegetables, like carrots, apples, celery, and broccoli, contain a lot of fiber for overall health. However, they can also keep your teeth and gums strong, especially when you’re young.

See Your Dentist Twice a Year for Preventative Dental Care

Even if you do everything listed above, you still run the risk of getting cavities, tooth decay, or other oral health issues. While you can sometimes feel or see when there’s an issue, a lot of these problems fly under the radar. But professional assistance from a dentist every six months can help you nab dental problems before they become severe.

A bi-yearly visit to the dentist can help you find early signs of tooth decay, which allows you to undergo quick, simple procedures like cavity fillings rather than needing more complex procedures like root canals, crowns, or extractions. Not to mention, you’ll get a comprehensive exam and cleaning to help make your teeth sparkle for a while before your next visit.

Most dental insurance plans cover a visit to the dentist for a routine check-up twice a year, but over 33% of Americans have no dental coverage whatsoever. This means that millions of people are stuck paying out of pocket for dental care. That can get expensive – especially when you need subsequent treatments outside of just your routine cleanings.

Routine cleanings can cost anywhere from $75-125 per visit, and if you need things like root canals, that can cost you another $1,000 or more. Don’t get stuck paying the entire face value for out-of-pocket dental care. 

The Flossy Care Difference

Flossy is a pay-as-you-go service that can save you up to 50% on common dental treatments, from routine cleanings to whitening, from root canals to extractions. With transparent pricing, the price you see is the price you pay, so you don’t need to worry about hidden fees being tacked on out of nowhere.

Membership is free, and there’s no monthly fee. And since there’s no waiting period, you can sign up today and start getting care right away.

It might sound too good to be true, but rest assured that the dentists in our network are vetted against a set of rigorous criteria, from excellent patient reviews to graduate degrees from accredited dental schools. So even though our prices are low, the quality is not.

Signs of Poor Oral Hygiene

Sometimes, you might not even realize if a cavity or another oral health problem is forming. However, knowing the warning signs can let you see a dentist as soon as possible to redirect issues before they become too severe.

Some of the most common signs include:

  • Pain or sensitivity when consuming something hot or cold
  • Bleeding at the gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gum recession
  • Pain or tenderness in the teeth, especially when biting down
  • Swelling of the jaw
  • Mouth sores that don’t seem to improve
  • Loose teeth

If you notice any of these issues, you shouldn’t wait until your bi-yearly dental visit. Call your dentist and try to get in as soon as possible so they can try to correct or reverse these problems before you see potentially serious complications.

Dental Health: Time for a Healthy Smile

Preventive dentistry is the branch of dentistry that focuses on preventing problems before they arise. While seeing a dentist twice a year to receive exams, x-rays, and cleanings is one of the best preventive measures, you still need to spend some time at home making sure that you’re practicing good oral hygiene. 

You can do this with proper brushing and flossing, using a fluoride rinse, and avoiding smoking and acidic foods. Head to your dentist’s office for regular check-ups and other preventive dental services. At dental check-ups, your DDS can advise you on dental cleaning, gum line health, and more. Doing this can have lifelong benefits.

Benefits of Dental Care and How To Get It

The benefits of preventive dentistry and great oral health include:

  • Reducing the risk of oral diseases
  • Saving money
  • Professional guidance and help
  • Finding potentially life-threatening complications before they become severe
  • More confidence in your smile

The main barrier between most people and oral care is the cost. Since millions of Americans don’t have dental insurance, it means that so many people are stuck paying out of pocket. And when the cost of care is so expensive, it’s a lot easier said than done.

No insurance? Perfect. Flossy is a pay-as-you-go service that saves you up to 50% on common dental treatments, like preventive care and restorative care. Join the Flossy app today and get started.

Sources:

Mouth cancer - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Oral Hygiene: Best Practices & Instructions for Good Routine | Cleveland Clinic

​​Prevalence of daily flossing among adults by selected risk factors for periodontal disease | PMC

Fluoride | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Dental insurance: Why are fewer Americans going to the dentist now than before the pandemic? | AS USA

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