Preventive Care

Committed to keeping your teeth healthy for a lifetime.

Preventive dental care focuses on proactively preventing dental problems rather than treating them after they arise. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been truer than it is when it comes to dental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports: “Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health.” Would it surprise you to know that the two biggest threats are preventable?

How can I prevent threats to my dental health?dental hygienists and doctors at crabtree dental

  • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day focusing on your specific dental trouble spots.
  • Consume a diet low in refined carbohydrates and sugar.
  • Make and keep regular preventive care appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist.
    • Follow fluoride recommendations of dental health professionals.
    • Have sealants applied to the crevices of teeth when recommended by your dental health professionals.
    • Take x-rays as recommended by your dental health professionals to detect decay and abnormalities that otherwise cannot be seen, thus enabling early detection and early treatment.

What happens during a preventive dental care appointment?

Dentists like to say, “You don’t have to brush and floss all your teeth, just the ones you want to keep”. Our dentists and dental hygienists are committed to helping you keep all of your teeth for your lifetime. We therefore focus on periodontal health, tooth decay, and any other abnormal condition of the oral cavity during your preventive care visits. Specifically we do the following:

  • Examination of tooth decay: check all teeth for signs of decay.
  • Examination of existing restorations: Check current fillings, crowns, and other restorations for signs of deterioration.
  • Evaluate teeth for sealants as appropriate.
  • Gum disease evaluation: Evaluate the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
  • Oral cancer screening: Examination of the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
  • When necessary, x-rays are taken and interpreted. These are essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, infection, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and erupting tooth positions.
  • Remove accumulated plaque and calculus (tartar).
  • Administer fluoride treatment as appropriate.
  • Polish and floss all teeth.
  • Schedule your next appointment for preventive care!

Will you schedule my preventive dental care appointment in advance?

checkout desk at crabtree dental office in katy texasYES! At Crabtree Dental we know the importance of consistent preventive dental care, so we set up our appointment book six months ahead of time so that you can schedule appointments in advance. Because we have 3-4 dental hygienists scheduled on most days, we are able to accommodate multiple family members at once, in turn saving valuable time in your day.

Our patients look forward to their regularly scheduled preventive care visits. They love the squeaky clean feeling experienced once the accumulation of tartar, plaque, and stain are removed. They are also motivated by the control they have over the two biggest threats to their dental health…tooth decay and periodontal disease. An ounce of dental prevention really is worth a pound of dental cure!

In addition, preventive dental care is often benefited twice yearly at 100% by most dental insurance plans. This is because dental insurance companies know that preventive care lowers the cost of dental treatment not just for you – but also to them. You work hard for your dental benefits; don’t leave them on the table – stay on a preventive track by scheduling regular checkups.

We know you’re busy, so we are geared up to help keep your appointments on track. Here’s what you can expect from us.

  • At the end of your preventive care visit, we will help you schedule your next visit. This ensures that you can reserve a time of day that best suits you. 90% of our patients schedule their appointments in advance. Once your appointment is reserved, you will receive the following reminders.
    • Postcards. We send you a postcard a month in advance of your appointment.
    • Emails or confirmation calls. We will email or call you three weeks in advance to remind you of your upcoming appointment. Because it was reserved months in advance, we ask you to confirm the appointment or change it to a time that suits you better.
  • If you don’t reserve an appointment, we’ll send you a postcard around the time you are due to remind you it’s time to schedule.

dental exam with dr crabtree and a young woman who is looking at her smile in a small mirror

I don’t have dental insurance; how can I maintain my dental health?

Contrary to what many people think, going without dental insurance is not a huge risk. Medical insurance protects you against significant financial exposure. Imagine what it would cost if you had cancer or bypass surgery for example and didn’t have any medical insurance. If you had medical insurance for the same illness, once you had met your annual deductible and co-pays your insurance would pick-up the rest of the tab which could total in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. By contrast, dental insurance plans typically provide the patient a benefit of no more than $1,500-2,000 a year. Going without dental insurance just doesn’t compare in risk to going without medical insurance. We tend to equate the hopelessness of being without medical care to being without dental care, but they just aren’t the same. You can afford to take care of your dental health without the assistance of insurance, especially if you are pro-active in utilizing the methods listed above to prevent dental disease.

Two preventive care visits each year will cost around $350-$500 per year depending on your specific needs. According to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) the average dental premium is $552 per year. If you have healthy teeth it may actually be cheaper for you not to have dental insurance (WHOA!). At the very least, annual preventive care visits will go a long way to ensure you have healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. So please don’t neglect your preventive care visits because you don’t have dental insurance. It just doesn’t make dollars and sense!

 

Why should I visit the dentist if I don’t have any pain?

Many dental problems are painless, so if you’re not visiting your dentist on a regular basis, you may not be aware of a problem until it has already caused significant damage. Early detection can minimize the effects of dental disease and the effect dental disease can have on your pocketbook. Being proactive with your preventive care lessens the likelihood that dental pain and problems will take you by surprise.

Part of a healthy lifestyle involves preventive oral healthcare. Patients who plan ahead for their preventive care visits are more likely to take the best care of their teeth. Our goal is to encourage you to a regimen of exceptional oral health to keep your smile healthy and bright!

digital xray monitor with xrays of teeth at crabtree dentalAre dental x-rays safe?

Yes, we believe they are. Bitewing, periapical, and panoramic dental x-ray images require very low levels of radiation exposure. The exposure from a dental x-ray is so low that it is classified as a “negligible individual dose” which in turn is defined as “that quantity of radiation that can be dismissed”. You get more radiation exposure on a sunny day than you do from a dental x-ray. Additionally, we have invested in digital technology that makes radiation exposure from x-rays taken in our dental office 80% lower than traditional film methods.

Dental x-rays emit much lower levels of radiation than medical x-rays. For example, it takes 1,400 dental radiographs to equal the radiation exposure to one chest CT scan. Even so, our dentists will only request x-rays when they are necessary. Dental x-rays are a vital diagnostic tool that reveals damage and disease not visible during a dental exam. Our recommendation…keep getting x-rays, the benefits far outweigh the risk of radiation exposure.

How can visiting the dentist aid in the early detection of oral cancer?

Primary care physicians generally do not screen for oral cancer. Early detection of this disease falls within the care of the general dentist. Our doctors screen for oral cancer as a part of a comprehensive examination, but they are only able to evaluate what they can see with the naked eye and palpate with their hands. With the advancement of technology it is now possible to identify even precancerous cells in areas of the mouth that show even the slightest physical manifestation. hygienist-demonstrate-teeth-to-patientThis can be done by performing an enhanced oral cancer screening examination. This examination utilizes a screening instrument that works in conjunction with a mild acetic acid rinse and a specialized blue light to improve the visualization of oral lesions. With the enhanced visual ability, potentially cancerous tissues may be identified in the earliest stages. Early detection of potentially cancerous tissue can minimize or eliminate the disfiguring effects of oral cancer and possibly save your life. If you are in one of the high risk groups, we recommend this examination every one to two years.

Oral cancer rates are on the rise and the seriousness of this disease cannot be overestimated. People at risk are those who use tobacco and alcohol, those who have contracted Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) as well as anyone over 40 years of age. However, statistics show that over 25% of oral cancer victims do not exhibit any of these risk factors and this year alone over 30,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer. As with any type of cancer, early detection is the most critical factor in defeating this disease because the survival rate is higher when it is treated in its early stages.

Here’s what the American Dental Hygienists’ Association has to say about proper brushing and flossing:

The Proper Way to Brush
The Proper Way to Floss

What are dental sealants?

Is fluoride helpful in preventing dental decay?

+ What do the hygienists at Crabtree Dental recommend in home oral health care aids?

Toothbrushes

  • green toothpaste being squeezed onto a row of white teethElectric toothbrushes: Electric toothbrushes are more effective in cleaning your teeth than a manual toothbrush. The vibrations from an electric toothbrush extend up to 2 millimeters beyond the bristles, allowing you to clean more thoroughly, especially in areas you can’t reach. Most brands boast a two-minute timer and interchangeable brush heads. We recommend the versions that sit on a charger rather than stand-alone battery-operated brushes as they function at a higher power level. We recommend Oral-B Braun electric toothbrushes.
  • Manual toothbrushes: We recommend soft bristles and a small brush head to get the best manual cleaning. We dispense to our patients the Colgate Wave because it offers an ergonomic handle and soft, rounded bristles to protect tooth enamel. Never use medium to hard bristle toothbrushes as they can damage the hard and soft tissues of the mouth by causing erosion and recession. A small brush head is ideal for all patients regardless of their physical size. The small brush head allows you to manipulate the toothbrush into areas of your mouth that are difficult to reach.

Flossing aids

  • Traditional dental floss: We recommend Oral-B Glide or Colgate Total. And if you find yourself getting tangled in floss – try floss picks instead!
  • Floss threaders: We recommend use of this aid to clean underneath and between bridges and permanent retainers. They are also useful for those with braces, crowded teeth, or super-tight contacts that are difficult to floss between. We recommend these by GUM.
  • Interdental brushes: The DenTek Easy Brush flosses and cleans between spaces and in places that are difficult to reach with your regular toothbrush and floss. A great tool for patients with braces, gum recession, or bridges.
  • Water flossers: The Waterpik can floss places that dental floss and interdental brushes can’t reach, and is particularly useful for patients with periodontal pockets, braces, or patients with dexterity limitations. Waterpiks used incorrectly can cause damage to your gums. Consult your dental hygienist for instructions regarding the proper use of this device for your particular dental hygiene needs.

It’s clear that preventing dental disease and maintaining your oral health requires both daily personal habits and an ongoing relationship with a dental professional. Preventive dental care is not something that is practiced occasionally but rather every day of our lives. Our mission at Crabtree Dental is to “become lifetime partners in the oral healthcare of our patients by providing exceptional dental care in an environment of extraordinary service”. We are especially pleased to provide this dental care to residents of the Cinco Ranch and surrounding neighborhoods in our Katy, TX community.

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