Dentist-Approved Strategies for Dental Health Maintenance

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—that’s why it’s important to prioritize your oral health. Taking the time to brush and floss daily, eat a balanced diet and visit the dentist for X-rays and cleanings can prevent serious problems down the road, including tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath (halitosis) and even oral cancer. And if you have dental insurance, regular checkups and cleanings are usually covered.

However, even for those with access to affordable dental care, there are many factors that may make it challenging to keep up with routine preventive visits. In fact, studies show that many Americans are not making dental visits a priority. This often leads to undiagnosed issues that require costly treatment down the road, especially among low-income patients.

The FDI Advocacy Toolkit recommends that patients should seek prompt treatment of progressing lesions and take steps to avoid caries altogether. The primary goal of prevention is to reduce disease impact by modifying unhealthy behaviors and increasing disease resistance, and it requires all actors to play a role. This includes patients, dental professionals and communities.

Educating patients about the importance of oral health and how to keep teeth healthy is one of the most effective ways to help them protect themselves from serious oral conditions and improve their overall quality of life. Patients need to understand the link between their oral and general health and be willing to adopt habits that promote good oral health, such as limiting sugary snacks, drinking water throughout the day, and eating more crunchy fruits and vegetables.

For dental professionals, it’s essential to have the proper tools and materials to help educate and support patients in their journey to a better quality of life. These tools can include dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and other remineralizing agents. These tools can also help dental professionals to practice a more comprehensive approach to prevention.

In a recent study, researchers found that the majority of dentist in Northbrook, IL who were asked to respond to a questionnaire on the practice of preventive dentistry agreed that these strategies were useful in reducing the burden of disease and improving quality of life. However, the respondents also indicated that they face limitations in implementing these strategies, such as patient compliance, lack of knowledge and training and limited revenue generation from these services.

While some countries are integrating dental education with medical schools, the US has kept dentistry separate from medicine. However, recent research has demonstrated that a growing number of patients have multiple health conditions and comorbidities. This has prompted some to propose models such as interprofessional education for medical and dental students, which could lead to clinicians who recognize the connections between oral and systemic health and treat patients accordingly.

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