What is preventive action?
Every time you put on a mask, wash your hands after coming home from the grocery store, or choose to socially distance, you are taking preventive action against COVID-19. Taking small steps now means you have a better chance of avoiding the serious effects of a COVID-19 infection later on.
Preventive care in dentistry works much the same way. Establishing a daily dental hygiene routine is key to avoiding larger problems further on. But there’s another preventive action you can take, one you might not be thinking of. This step is essential to helping you avoid major dental problems in the future. Regular check-ups with your dentist are imperative. That’s because the huge majority of serious dental problems can be prevented with a combination of home care and biannual check-ups with an expert, like those on our Antoine Dental Center team. Prevention is the best medicine.
Why is preventive action important?
Serious dental issues can be a real pain, both literally and figuratively. They are also extremely common. An estimated 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth—that’s more than 1 in 2 Americans! Among them, 40 million Americans are missing all their teeth, requiring major intervention.
Tooth loss poses physical, mental, and financial difficulties. People can become self-conscious, interfering with their social lives, while complete tooth loss can actively impact and limit their diets and speech. Replacements for natural teeth can be expensive and time-consuming procedures.
Sometimes, even with advanced infections, a dentist may be able to save a tooth in a process called a root canal. These are common procedures—more than 15 million root canals are performed every year in the U.S. Root canals are necessary when there is an infection in the nerve of a tooth, which is at the center. When the nerve is exposed to bacteria and other contaminants, serious infection and inflammation may result. A root canal can treat the infection and save the tooth.
But root canals have a reputation for being painful and they can be expensive. The good news is that major dentistry interventions, like root canals, can be avoided by taking the preventive steps we outlined above. At-home care, including brushing twice per day and flossing once per day, goes a long way to keeping your teeth healthy. Regular dental check-ups at Antoine Dental Center are also important, so dentists can catch potential problems early enough that you can avoid interventions like a root canal.
Sometimes, however, dental problems can progress beyond the point of treatments that can save a tooth. Many patients find themselves in situations where the only option is extraction. Extractions can be expensive, and the replacements for natural teeth can also be costly. It’s important to remember that tooth extractions are not unusual procedures, and they can happen to anyone. Implants, which are one option for replacing a missing tooth, are incredibly common—American dentists place more than 5 million implants per year!
The most common reason for tooth extraction is irreparable tooth decay. That’s why preventive action is so critical to helping you avoid the pain and cost of tooth extraction procedures and natural tooth replacements. Tooth decay is caused when daily oral hygiene routines are not taken seriously enough and when minor problems are allowed to snowball into big ones. Regular check-ups are the number one step you can take to catch these smaller problems before they become reasons for tooth extraction or other drastic intervention.
Another common reason for tooth extraction is bone loss around the tooth, which is caused by a gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontal disease is extremely common; 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older suffer from a certain degree of periodontitis and its incidence increases with age, such that 70.1% of people 65 years and older have periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is a gum infection, caused by bacteria infecting gum tissue around the tooth and causing inflammation. These bacteria eventually create a plaque over the tooth, which then hardens into tartar. It can build up below the gum line and make teeth harder to clean. Only professionals are able to remove tartar, which is critical to stopping periodontitis from progressing.
When you come in for regular check-ups, we check for any signs of periodontitis; we also do a teeth cleaning, which removes tartar build-up and helps you avoid more serious complications from periodontitis, including teeth extractions, prescription medications, and even corrective surgery.
How do regular check-ups help avoid these problems?
Just like wearing a mask reduces the chance of catching and spreading COVID-19, regular dental check-ups give you an extra layer of security and comfort, ensuring that small problems can be caught and resolved before they become major challenges down the line. This isn’t just about oral health. There are strong connections between oral health issues and serious health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health issues.
Regular dental visits are essential, as they are the most effective way to prevent and detect gum disease and other conditions that might lead to or exacerbate other health problems. Maintaining your oral health is key to keeping your immune system strong, which is particularly important in this period of heightened infection.
In terms of your oral health, regular dental visits ensure we can take care of any problem as early as possible. Oral health issues like gum disease and tooth decay worsen over time if they are left untreated, and taking care of them early helps avoid future medical procedures that can be high-cost and more complex. Routine appointments, including teeth cleanings, lessen the chance of dental procedures like fillings and tooth removal. Early detection is also important in order to effectively treat more serious oral health problems like gum disease and oral cancer.
What’s the next step?
As you’ve read in this article, many of the more serious dental complications start small. If you don’t have regular examinations by a dental professional, as well as regular dental cleanings, these small problems can start to snowball, their effects compounding, and can lead to situations where root canals and teeth extractions become the only option. The treatments can be expensive and time-consuming, not to mention the physical discomfort arising from these complications themselves.
Luckily, you know what you have to do to avoid them! Book a regular check-up with Antoine Dental Center today. We’ll give you tips on home-care, a thorough dental cleaning, and make sure everything is as it should be. Coming in for these check-ups will give you the peace of mind you’re looking for. Get into the habit of biannual check-ups; your teeth (and your pocketbook!) will thank you.