You’ve no doubt heard the phrase and know what it means when it comes to your dental health. To prevent cavities and other dental diseases, the basics of prevention are:
- Brushing your teeth thoroughly for 2 minutes, twice a day
- Flossing your teeth daily
- Using a fluoride toothpaste, drinking fluoridated water and applying additional fluoride if required
- Reducing the frequency of dietary sugars and acids
- Visiting your dentist regularly
Dr Teo has always encouraged her patients to take a preventive approach to their dental health. She enjoys helping her patients avoid cavities, gum disease, tooth wear and other damage that a modern lifestyle threatens to cause. She has introduced many technologies into her practice that support her preventive approach to patient care.
Reactive Dentistry: The “Old School” Approach
Without modern diagnostic tools and a prevention-based approach, dental care tends to be reactive.
In the case of tooth decay, a reactive approach means that very little or no action is taken even when an early cavity is detected. The dentist instead waits, perhaps “watches” for a number of months or years, until the cavity has grown to a large enough size that means a filling can no longer be avoided.
In such a situation, the dentist is “reactive”: once the cavity has formed, they respond by repairing the damage with a filling. There has been no targeted approach to preventing further growth of the early cavity.
Proactive Dentistry: Our Approach To Dental Care
Dr Teo and her patients have demonstrated, time and time again, that taking a proactive approach can actually stop the progress of a cavity. This means that in some cases, a filling can be avoided completely.
Criteria For Success
To have success, there are three important criteria:
- The cavity must be detected as early as possible, before it enters the deeper layers of the tooth
- The patient is informed and educated on preventative measures
- The patient and their dentist must be committed to active, consistent and ongoing prevention
Early Cavity Detection
Cavities can develop in many places, but there are three common locations:
- In the deep grooves or pits (fissures) that naturally occur in some teeth. This type of cavity is most common in children’s teeth, and can usually be discovered through inspection. Dr Teo uses fissure sealants to prevent cavities from developing in these areas.
- On the sides of teeth where they touch together. This is a difficult-to-see area. Previously, the main way to locate cavities between the teeth has been with the use of x-rays. If a cavity is found early enough, its growth can be stopped.
- Under existing fillings. This is also a difficult-to-see area, and, once a cavity has developed it usually requires the replacement of some or all of the existing filling.
Dr Teo uses the following methods to locate developing cavities:
- Visual examination under bright lights, and with magnification (eyewear called “surgical loupes”)
- An Intra-Oral Camera captures and projects still and video images of the teeth onto a screen. This allows the patient to also see areas of concern in their teeth
- Digital x-rays, which penetrate the tooth and provide two-dimensional images of hidden cavities
- The Diagnocam, which uses a radiation-free diode laser to create very accurate, high quality, three-dimensional images of teeth and the cavities developing within them.
Knowing Where The Cavity Is Located
In previous years, before modern technology made it easier to see them, it was difficult for a patient to see where cavities were located in their teeth. Using a mirror to try to see what the dentist was pointing to, or trying to discern which smudge of grey on an x-ray was the cavity, was difficult and potentially frustrating for a patient.
This is why Dr Teo has introduced some remarkable tools that not only help her to locate cavities, but which also allow her patients to see exactly where these cavities are located.
The Intraoral Camera, Digital X-rays and the Diagnocam all produce large, clear images which can be projected onto the screen for the patient to see. If a cavity has started to form, the patient will be able to see its size and location. Dr. Teo compares these new images to those taken previously, to monitor the progress of dental disease.
Most importantly, these imaging devices allow a patient to clearly see the location of active dental disease in their teeth. Once the patient knows where to focus their efforts, they can become proactive in trying to halt the progress of the decay.
Practising Daily Active Prevention
Preventing dental disease isn’t always easy. That’s because it requires an ongoing commitment to the five basic tasks listed earlier on this page. Shortcuts simply aren’t possible.
Occasional flossing isn’t remotely as effective as developing a daily flossing habit.
A poor brushing technique can leave lots of acid-producing plaque bacteria coating the teeth.
The sugars hidden in our foods make it very difficult to minimise ongoing exposure to them unless a conscious effort is taken to make different food choices.
But with diligence and ongoing effort, prevention is very successful at slowing down or stopping the progress of dental disease.
Prevention At Ailin Teo Dental Surgery
When a patient wishes to adopt a prevention routine, Dr Teo works closely with them.
- With the use of her chosen diagnostic and imaging tools, Dr Teo will locate hidden cavities and educate her patients on preventative strategies.
- Tailor a home-care program to their needs. Many people find that flossing with regular floss is difficult. Dr Teo will help them to use a different product or method that achieves the same outcome
- Provide advice and resources to help make it easier to avoid foods and drinks that can damage their teeth
- If additional fluoride will be helpful, Dr Teo will either apply it during check-ups or prescribe a fluoride rinse or gel for regular application at home
- And at check-up appointments, she will review the areas at risk with the Diagnocam and compare images with previous ones. You’ll be able to see for yourself how successful your prevention efforts have been.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that you’ve managed to halt the progress of tooth decay in its tracks. If this sounds like the approach to your dental health that you’d like to take, please feel free to call the practice to make an appointment.