Beyond Brushing: The Key Role of Preventative Care in Dental Health

Dental health is a key part of overall well-being, and preventive care is the cornerstone of a healthy smile. Tooth decay, gum disease and other oral problems are largely preventable with consistent brushing, flossing and regular check-ups at the dentist. Unfortunately, 132 million Americans lack dental insurance.1 This is a major obstacle to preventative dentistry, which relies on affordable dental care to thwart issues before they arise.

Preventative dental care is all about preventing disease and tooth loss through the regular routine of teeth cleanings, brushing with fluoride toothpaste and other preventive habits. This proactive approach to oral health empowers patients and reduces the need for costly and time-consuming treatments like fillings, crowns or extractions.

Brushing twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing daily and avoiding sugary foods are all essential steps in maintaining a healthy mouth and smile. These efforts are only enhanced by a healthy diet, and regular checkups with a hygienist, who can reach areas that a patient’s toothbrush and floss cannot, to remove plaque buildup and detect any developing dental issues.

A healthy mouth can help prevent other health concerns like heart disease and diabetes. Research shows that a person’s oral and general health are connected, with the mouth acting as a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Poor oral health can also lead to other health issues, such as respiratory infections and low birth weight in newborns. If you have questions about preventing or treating dental issues, call Dr. Karen Rosen, DDS for an appointment. Our dental clinic can help you determine the right dental care options for your needs and create a personalized plan for you.

While genetics play a role in a person’s oral health, a combination of at-home dental care and preventive visits with the dentist can significantly decrease a person’s risk of developing diseases like gum disease, gingivitis (the earliest stage of gum disease) and tooth decay. Preventive visits can also identify and treat existing issues, such as cavities and broken teeth.

Access to preventive dental care is vital for a healthy life, and is especially important for children, where cavities remain one of the leading unmet health needs, affecting more than a third of all children.1

Having access to affordable preventive dental care is also vital in reducing disparities in oral health, particularly in communities of need, where poverty and lack of access to healthcare can be a barrier to oral health.2

For example, a new outreach program from UIC’s Dental School aims to reduce the number of kids who get cavities by promoting preventive visits and improving the availability of oral health education in low-income communities. The program, called CO-OP Chicago, works to provide access to affordable dental services in Torrance most vulnerable neighborhoods and is leveraging partnerships with community organizations to improve access to oral health care for children.