Prevention in dental medicine today
Prevention is that set of actions that bring about a reduction in the risk of adverse events. In the field of dentistry, primary prevention to lower the risk percentage for the occurrence of diseases of the oral cavity has to follow three general guidelines:
1. Carrying out periodic professional check-ups: visiting the dentist at least once a year even in the absence of symptoms is essential to enable the formulation of early diagnosis of caries, gum disease and inflammation. Identifying a disease in its initial stages makes the use of less invasive, prompter and less costly therapy possible.
2. Home-based oral hygiene: As the term suggests, this consists of all the measures to be carried out at home for the purpose of guaranteeing a level of hygiene compatible with good oral health. Good oral hygiene is guaranteed by the mechanical removal of plaque through:
- brushing: cleaning the teeth 3 times a day and after every meal using a correct brushing technique in order to avoid damage to teeth and gums The toothbrush should be held at an angle of 45° to the gums and brushing of the external and internal tooth surfaces should be in a gum-to-tooth direction (from the red to the white). The biting surfaces should also be brushed with back-and-forth and lateral movements. Of no less importance is the cleansing of the surface of the tongue, whose structure retains many food residues and bacteria, predisposing to the development of halitosis.
- interdental floss: to be used at least once a day in order to remove residues retained in the space between one tooth and another The thread should be wound around the middle fingers and guided by the thumb and index finger. It should be carefully inserted into the interdental spaces so that contact is around one of the two teeth and this close contact maintained during vertical movement. The same operation should then be repeated in the same space with contact on the other tooth.
- interdental brush: this instrument may be used as an alternative to floss in larger interdental spaces. It is made up of two parts: a handle and an attachment, which may be chosen according to the most suitable shape for the tooth concerned, so that the highest possible degree of friction is obtained. This instrument may be used as an alternative to floss in larger interdental spaces.
- mouthwash and toothpaste: the use of fluoride-based mouthwash and toothpaste reduces the risk of caries formation.
3. Elimination/reduction of negative habits
- sugars: Avoid eating sweets between meals unless there is an opportunity to clean your teeth soon afterwards to reduce the risk of caries formation.
- smoking: This increases the risk of cancerous disease of the oral cavity and accelerates the speed of tooth-supporting bone destruction in patients with a genetic predisposition; it causes staining of tooth enamel and bad breath problems.
- alcohol: This increases the risk of occurrence of cancerous disease of the oral cavity.
Prevention in children
Even in the case of deciduous or milk teeth, the prevention of caries is of fundamental importance. Caries can be the cause of infections and pain; the early loss of milk teeth may lead to problems of tooth alignment and occlusion in the permanent dentition. By following a few simple rules, you can help your children avoid the need for dental treatment which may often be problematic and traumatic for the children.
- Do not dip the baby’s dummy or the teat of the feeding bottle in sugary substances as this can lead to the formation of a great many caries in the milk teeth.
- Maintain good oral hygiene using a toothbrush right from the appearance of the first tooth.
- fluoride prophylaxis: Administer fluoride drops to strengthen the developing teeth (consult your paediatrician)
- fissure sealing: The anatomy of the biting surface is highly complex and it may feature crevices that are so deep that they are difficult to clean. With children and youngsters who have a predisposition for the formation of caries, it is important to seal these fissures.