Get regular checkups. Brush your teeth. And, seriously—for the love of all that is good—start flossing already.
We’ve heard these mandates, the basic three rules of preventive care, from dentists a thousand times already. But now it’s time to really pay attention. “Not only are you preventing dental disease in your mouth when you take care of your oral health, but you’re preventing other diseases in your whole body,” says Dr. Teresa Addiego, of State of the Art Smiles in Marlton. Periodontal disease, for example, has been linked to preterm labor, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other serious ailments. “The investment you make in preventive dental care is far less than what it takes to correct it once it’s there or to make your body well once you get sick.”
Fortunately, many preventive measures are simple and affordable, while new technology is providing even better ways to care for your teeth and gums. And that, local dental experts say, means there are many things you can do to ensure a healthy smile for years to come.
Addiego says a good place to start is with a higher-end electric toothbrush, such as Braun, Oral B or Sonicare models. She says they’re a significant improvement over standard brushes and help avoid detrimental over-brushing, which can damage the gum line. “They’re fairly foolproof: If you press too hard with the better-model electric toothbrushes, they actually slow down.”
That, of course, must be accompanied by a flossing regimen, says Dr. Kevin Atlee, of Atlee Dental in Moorestown. Failing to keep up with flossing can contribute to gum disease as well as the formation of cavities. “You can also get decay between the teeth, which is much harder to fix and over time causes the most problems,” he says. Those who let it go long enough are often stuck having to foot the bill for pricey dental crowns.
Just as important: regular checkups. For one thing, Addiego notes, getting stains polished away every six months is way more effective than trying to remove them later on (and is more affordable and beneficial than whitening regimens). For another, skipping checkups increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Plus, new advancements means that cavities can be caught sooner than ever at checkups. Atlee uses the DIAGNOdent laser at every visit to identify any decay within the teeth well before it could be spotted visually. “This way, we go in and fix it when it’s very small,” he says. “That saves us trouble down the line. It makes [the treatment] easier and more conservative.”
A Healthy Start
Sure, your kids might like going to the dentist about as much as eating their vegetables or doing their math homework. But starting preventive oral care early is critical. The American Dental Association recommends children visit the dentist by age 3, while some local dentists urge visiting before the child’s first birthday. And Addiego urges: “Make sure they go to a dentist where they’re going to have a great experience.” Try asking at the front desk to learn if the office sees many children or offers any special treatments for them such as sealants, which she says can prevent decay on the chewing surface of the teeth.
Dr. John Kupcha of Medford Family Dental Care notes that at-home care is important, too—including brushing babies’ teeth, teaching good brushing habits, and considering fluoride supplements for children older than 2. After age 4, Kupcha urges parents to discourage pacifier use and thumb sucking, which can both lead to malformed teeth. “It is essential that a child’s primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for permanent teeth,” he says.
“If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don’t erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers can sometimes be used to correct this condition, if it is spotted early enough.”
Vigilant care for children also means considering orthodontic care at an early age, as recommended by your general dentist. Dr. Thomas Kadar of Sewell’s Kadar Orthodontics says the American Academy of Orthodontists recommends screening by age 7. “This allows us to evaluate the child early, to determine whether orthodontic treatment may be required,” he says.
“Sometimes, we can begin to correct any abnormalities while the teeth and jaws are still in their formative stages. By bringing your child in for an early evaluation, you may be able to avoid costly or arduous treatments later in life.”
Smiles for Life
It’s not just children that require ongoing preventive care. According to Kupcha, women and men have unique oral health needs as they age. For women, hormone surges during pregnancy, menopause and other life events can be associated with lesions, ulcers, dry sockets and swollen gums. “Birth control pills have been shown to increase the risk of gingivitis, and hormone replacement therapy has been shown to cause bleeding and swollen gums,” says Kupcha, which is why preventive care is critical before and during pregnancies.
It’s important to consult with your dentist about which specific treatments might help you. “There are dental pastes, gels and rinses which can help desensitize and strengthen your teeth, recalcify your enamel and help prevent decay. Some of them the dentist can issue you, and some are over the counter. It all depends on what you need,” says Addiego.
And when damage is done, seeing the right dentist can help improve outcomes and reduce pain. Addiego uses a laser in place of a drill to remove decay in many cases. “The laser does less collateral damage on the tooth structure and it’s painless, so no shots are necessary. And, we can use [the laser] to treat something sooner so it doesn’t advance.”
When more severe issues arise, technological advancements can also minimize discomfort and maximize efficiency in treatment. For one, Atlee has a computerized fabrication system that can create custom crowns or veneers in the office in about an hour, as opposed to the traditional method, which requires the dentist to make an impression to send to a lab and wait about two weeks for crowns to be fabricated. The system saves time, since the entire job can be done in one visit, and prevents patients from having to wear those delicate temporary caps that tend to break off at inopportune times.
Similarly, new advancements have improved orthodontic care for those who put off braces until later in life. Invisalign braces already offered an improvement over the standard metal mouth; now, Kadar does the service one better by using a digital scan of a patient’s teeth to create the custom braces, rather than the gag-inducing mold that used to be necessary.
Regardless of what your dental issue may be, it’s generally true that treating it sooner means a simpler, quicker and more affordable fix, which is why going to the dentist regularly really is something to smile about.
Distinguished Dental Care
A Special Advertising Section from the pages of South Jersey Magazine
With the help of these dentists, a brighter smile won’t just boost your confidence, it’ll improve your overall health.
ABC Children’s Dentistry
Dr. Jeffrey Singer
Dr. Singer’s philosophy is that “pediatric dentists have a profound effect on the lives of children. They must provide an easy experience for a lifetime of healthy smiles.” He is frequently voted “Top Pediatric Dentist.”
Voorhees |?(856) 783-3515
Dr. Kevin Atlee
At Atlee Dental, they provide all general and family dental services including cleanings, fillings, crowns, implants and teeth whitening. Dr. Atlee is highly skilled and trained in all phases of cosmetic and general dentistry. Using state-of-the-art, computer-aided technology, they can fabricate crowns in only one office visit.
Moorestown |?(856) 234-8686
Dental Arts of South Jersey
Dr. Jack Piermatti
They are dedicated to excellence in dentistry and pride themselves on the professionalism and personal attention their staff devotes to our patients. they strive to deliver quality dental care in a comfortable and caring environment.
Voorhees |?(856) 783-5777
Dr. Franck Euksuzian
Dr. Monique Braatz
Their focus of dentistry is preventive care combined with advanced aesthetics, resulting in healthy beautiful smiles that everyone loves. They provide the highest quality of dentistry, making the practice special.
Medford |?(609) 953-4300
Dr. Sarkis Euksuzian
Their orthodontic team consists of highly skilled professionals committed to providing personalized care. They strive to make your experience enjoyable.
Medford |?(609) 654-0600
Moorestown |?(856) 234-2992
Dr. Lisa N. Gallucci
Dr. Gallucci is dedicated to providing you with the personalized, gentle care that you deserve. Gallucci is highly skilled in a wide range of cosmetic dentistry procedures such as veneers, implants, Invisalign and Zoom Whitening.
Marlton |?(856) 983-0546
Dr. Thomas Kadar
It’s easy for them to believe that a new smile can change your life. After all, they see it happen every day at Kadar Orthodontics. Utilizing the best orthodontic technologies, Dr. Kadar quickly produces awesome results for his patients. A few months, a new life. (Spec. #3856)
Sewell |?(856) 582-1400
Medford Family Dental Care
Dr. John Kupcha
Dr. Samuel Mutch
They believe that preventive dentistry is crucial to maintaining not only patients’ oral health, but their overall health as well. Since 1976, they have been committed to providing patients with the highest quality oral health care in the most gentle, efficient and enthusiastic manner possible.
Medford |?(609) 714-2273
Morrone & Kaye Orthodontics
Dr. Richard Kaye
At Morrone & Kaye, they take special care to educate you about all of your options, so that your smile will be the best it can be. Just ask your friends who have been in to see us. (Spec. #4013)
Moorestown |?(856) 234-4044
Mount Holly |?(609) 267-1221
Drs. Rosen & Dworkin, PA
Dr. Gary S. Dworkin
Dr. Fred M. Rosen
Drs. Rosen and Dworkin utilize innovative dental technology in a caring, friendly environment to make your dental experience comfortable, relaxing and stress free. With more than 65 years combined experience, their commitment to continuing education keeps them up to date.
Marlton |?(856) 983-7732
State of the Art Smiles
Dr. Teresa Addiego
Dr. David Edenbaum
One of the latest advancements in dental care is the BioLase, a laser that avoids the need for Novocaine and dental drills in treatments, including the removal of tooth decay, fillings, extractions and crown lengthening. Patients can be 100 percent pain free at the dentist. No shots, no drilling, no pain … no kidding.
Marlton |?(856) 985-1800
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 12 (March, 2012).
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