Prevention is better than cure, or so the old adage goes, and this definitely applies to dentistry. There are a handful of genetic predispositions, but most dental issues can be avoided relatively easily and inexpensively. In the worst-case scenario, early treatment is less invasive and more effective than late treatment. This article looks at some of the pillars of preventive dental care and how they work in action.
Treatment of decay
The core of any dentist West Bridgford is prevention against decay. In the days of mediaeval dentistry, the treatment of decay, or the darkening of part of a tooth was resolved by quite drastic means, alleviating the discomfort and aiming to prevent the decay from spreading. This was done by seeking out the tooth worm, which has now been identified as a nerve that had clearly burrowed its way into the tooth and damaged it. Once the tooth worm was extracted or destroyed, the discomfort was relieved.
It is now known that this level of decay requires removal by drilling and that the remaining healthy tooth has to be filled. This minor restoration stops the encroachment of established bacterial colonies, which can dissolve the enamel and dentine alike and expose the underlying nerve, which results in the aching or throbbing sensation of a toothache.
Maintaining fresh breath
Maintaining fresh breath is one of the symptoms outside of discomfort that will bring people into the surgery. Your breath can be a very useful indicator of a high bacterial load in the mouth which increases the risks of other conditions as well as cavities and gingivitis.
In general, a lapse in oral hygiene is at the centre of bad breath. There is variability in the quantity and quality of daily maintenance, which alters from person to person. This is related to genetic makeup, differing the susceptibility to oral disease but also the species of bacteria in our mouths. One patient may be completely fine with the standard twice daily brushing and flossing, and another may require far more intensive daily care like the use of a Waterpik, flossing, mouthwash and tongue scraping to stay on top of their mouth odour.
Gum disease is characterised by the recession of gum tissue; this is a relatively late-stage condition, and its prelude, gingivitis, is very common. Only after years of persistent gingivitis is gum disease likely. For most patients, gingivitis flies under the radar and only comes to their attention after attending dental checkups for an emergency procedure. For those who regularly attend 6-month check-ups, this is usually noticed and addressed before it can cause significant issues.
As gum moves away from the teeth, the cementum is exposed; this is the yellow-like dentin material that makes up the roots of each tooth. Cementum is far more porous than enamel and can often be sensitive to hot and cold stimulation. Cementum is also far softer and more vulnerable to cavities and acid erosion. The root of the tooth requires contact with the gum to provide it with nutrients and cell-to-cell communication, but as the gum recedes, the tooth becomes significantly looser in the socket and will eventually be lost in severe cases.