What is preventive dental care?
Preventive dental care lays the groundwork for a healthy, beautiful smile. In combination with proper at-home hygiene practices, like twice-daily brushing and flossing at least once a day, attending regular cleanings and oral exams can help keep your teeth and gums healthy and free from decay and other dental health issues. Routine checkups in Alexandria also allow us to track your oral health and address any minor problems with your oral health before they become major ones.
Did you know…
Oral health is essential to your body’s overall wellbeing.
What to expect at your preventive dental care appointment
To start things off, we’ll perform a complete cleaning of your teeth and gums, using special tools to remove any plaque and tartar that may have built up along the gumline. Essential aspects of your cleaning will include thorough flossing between your teeth in all those hard-to-reach places, and scraping off plaque that has accumulated along the gum line. To finish the cleaning process, we’ll polish your teeth, leaving you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to smile.
Any Necessary X-Rays
If you’re new to the office or haven’t had dental x-rays in a while, Dr. Joe may recommend that you take some during your preventive care appointment. Dental x-rays let us see what’s going on beneath the surface of your smile, giving us the ability to find issues that may not be visible otherwise. With x-rays, we’re able to make more accurate diagnoses and create more effective and efficient treatment plans.
Dr. Joe will review your x-rays and then take a thorough look at your teeth, gums, and the rest of your mouth. If we spot any issues, we’ll take the time to educate you on our findings, so you can keep your dental health on the right track. We make it our goal to keep you educated about your oral wellbeing, so you can make the right decisions for your smile.
Personalized Treatment Plan
Using the information we’ve gathered with your exam and x-rays, we’ll work together with you to craft a treatment plan customized for your unique oral health needs, budget, and lifestyle. If everything looks good, we’ll simply schedule your next routine cleaning and checkup.
Schedule Follow Up Appointment
Our team is here for you! No matter what kind of treatment you schedule, our team is standing by to answer any questions you may have about insurance, financing, or anything else. We’ll do everything possible to make sure your every visit is straightforward and stress-free.
Preventive Treatment Options
Cleaning & Hygiene
Coming in for regular teeth cleanings will ensure that you have a healthy and strong smile. It is recommended to schedule an appointment in Alexandria every six months so your dental hygienist can address any minor stains, plaque, or bacteria that may have built up since your last visit.
A diligent at-home oral care routine is just as important as coming in for your cleanings. Be sure to brush at least twice a day for two minutes using fluoride-based toothpaste. In addition, floss at least once per day to remove food particles, plaque, and bacteria that can’t be removed with brushing alone.
Digital x-rays are fast, comfortable, and above all, safe. Crisp, high-resolution images give us the ability to make more accurate diagnoses while exposing you to just a fraction of the radiation employed by traditional film x-rays. Generally, most patients can expect to receive one or two full sets of x-rays annually, but it’s possible that additional imaging will be recommended if you’ve experienced a dental emergency, or you have a potential oral health issue.
Fluoride treatments are simple, non-invasive, and are great at keeping dental decay from occurring. After your cleaning, we’ll apply a varnish or gel that is rich in fluoride to your teeth, then rinse it away after a few minutes. Fluoride strengthens your enamel by kickstarting a process called “remineralization,” which works by attracting minerals like calcium and phosphates to your teeth, helping to restore the hardness of your enamel and increase your smile’s resistance to acids.
Dental sealants are often recommended for children, who are at a higher risk for tooth decay, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a great option for patients of all ages who want to protect their teeth from cavities. The application of dental sealants is a very straight-forward procedure, beginning with the application of a dental resin to the molars. Located in the back of the mouth, molars are filled with grooves and uneven surfaces where plaque and bacteria can hide and flourish. The resin is then cured with a UV light to help it harden, creating a powerful barrier between your teeth and the foods, drinks, acid, and bacteria that lead to decay. And the best part? Dental sealants can last for years!
Gum disease is more common than you may expect, and if left untreated, patients struggling with it can risk developing additional problems, up to and including the loss of their teeth. The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and is the only stage that can be reversed with deep cleanings and good at-home hygiene. If you have gingivitis, staying on top of your regular cleanings, checkups, and at-home care will help you to regain control over your oral health before it becomes irreversible.
More advanced stages of periodontitis require more advanced and frequent treatment. We usually recommend scheduling deep cleaning sessions in Alexandria every three to four months, depending on your unique needs. Although the effects of more advanced periodontitis are irreversible, deep cleanings, scaling, and root planing can stop gum disease in its tracks and help preserve your oral wellbeing.
Oral Cancer Screenings
As a part of every preventive care visit, we’ll perform an oral cancer screening. Catching oral cancer early on gives us a better chance at stopping it before it spreads, and can even save your life.
During your exam, Dr. Joe will examine your gums, tongue, and the rest of your mouth, looking for abnormalities like lesions, lumps, and discolorations. If we discover anything out of the ordinary, we’ll take a biopsy to send to a specialist for a comprehensive analysis. Although oral cancer is relatively rare, it’s important to be diligent about your oral hygiene routine, and to regularly visit our office for cleanings and checkups so we can identify any potential problems before they become major issues.
Bruxism, or unconscious teeth grinding and clenching is a common issue faced by many patients. As this behavior tends to happen at night while patients are asleep, night guards are a great solution for Bruxism. Night guards can be made from a variety of materials depending on the severity of your case, and work by creating a barrier between your teeth that protects them from damage caused by clenching and grinding.
If you need a night guard, Dr. Joe will take impressions or digital scans of your teeth and gums to craft a custom mold that will then be sent to the lab, where your night guard will be made to your exact specifications and measurements. Night guards ease tension in your jaw in order to alleviate the painful headaches and other uncomfortable or damaging side effects of clenching and grinding, so you can get more restful sleep and keep your smile healthy.
Like night guards, sports mouth guards are worn over the teeth, but are designed specifically to protect your grin from oral trauma common in patients who play high-impact sports. A custom-fitted sports guard can help protect you from dental injuries caused by collisions to the mouth, face, or head. If you’re an athlete who plays football, basketball, baseball, soccer, rugby, hockey, gymnastics, mountain biking, or other activities that put you at risk for injury due to falling, body contact, or flying objects, a sports guard is essential for protecting your smile. Tailored to fit your own unique grin, custom-fitted sports guards are comfortable, and durable, so you can keep playing the sports you love.
Did you know…
1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has at least one cavity.
Have questions about preventive dentistry? Find answers here.
How do I brush my teeth properly?
Keeping up with good brushing habits is integral to your oral health, and using the proper technique can help keep your mouth free from decay. Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle and use small, circular strokes to clean the front, back, and chewing surfaces of each tooth. You should spend about 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth. Use toothpaste that is ADA-approved and rich in fluoride, and don’t forget to replace your toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every 3-4 months, or when the bristles start to look frayed or worn.
How do I floss properly?
Daily flossing is the best way to dislodge plaque and bacteria to keep gum disease at bay, and can be easy once you know the proper technique. Begin by gathering about 24 inches of dental floss, wrapping most of it around one index or middle finger. Wind the remaining few inches around the index finger of your other hand, keeping about 1-inch of floss taut between your fingers and thumbs. Gently glide the floss between your teeth. If you’re having trouble getting the floss between your teeth, try not to force it, as it can slip and cause damage to your gums. Instead, use a gentle side-to-side rocking motion to get the floss where it needs to be. Once the floss is between your teeth, slide it into the gum line while following the c-shaped curve of the tooth. Repeat this process for both sides of every tooth. To help prevent the spread of bacteria, be sure to wind a new 1-inch section of floss before moving on to the next tooth.
What's the difference between prophylactic cleanings and periodontal cleanings?
Prophylactic cleanings, also known as “regular cleanings, ” are the cleanings you receive during your routine dental appointments. They are essential in helping to prevent decay and keep your breath fresh, and should be scheduled every 6 months. During your cleaning, we’ll remove any plaque, tartar, or bacterial buildup from your teeth and floss between them to ensure the continued health of your smile.
Periodontal cleanings are only necessary for patients with periodontal, or gum, disease, and are sometimes referred to as “deep cleanings.” These cleaning sessions are more thorough than regular cleanings, and are meant to halt the progression of gum disease. Dr. Joe or your hygienist will carefully scrape away any plaque or tartar buildup from between your teeth and gums, and carefully smooth out the roots of your teeth, to eliminate pockets that can trap bacteria and allow gum disease to flourish. An important part of every periodontal maintenance routine, deep cleanings can help those suffering from gum disease to preserve their oral health.
Is preventive care covered by dental insurance?
The vast majority of dental insurance policies fully cover routine preventive care like cleanings, exams, and x-rays. Even if it’s not completely covered by your insurance plan, chances are it is at least partially covered. Certain plans may even cover optional treatments, like dental sealants and fluoride treatments. Get in touch with your provider for specific details about your insurance plan, or give us a call today and find out how we can help maximize your benefits.
Did you know…
Keeping up with preventive care can save you money, time, and future dental pain.