The cornerstone to dental health is good hygiene.
To that end, a well run continuing care program is the foundation of a successful long- term wellness strategy. Prevention is the simplest and cheapest route to a lifetime of dental wellness. Dental health requires a shared responsibility between the dental team and the patient.
In order to get started our hygienists must thoroughly clean hard, calcified bacterial deposits off all the surfaces of the patient’s teeth. This is important for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that these bacteria laden deposits can cause periodontal disease which can lead to tooth lose. A less well-known reason is that the bacteria in these plaque deposits can also play a role in a whole host of other diseases throughout the body. This is discussed in depth under the heading “Systemic Diseases”
Patients also have a responsibility if all of this is going to work. Their responsibility is to learn and use the skills of good personal hygiene which they use at home on a daily basis. These skills will be taught thoroughly by our hygienists and other team members. Patients also need to join in a continuing care timetable that enables our hygienists to keep harmful pathogens in check. No matter how well we clean things at the start; the bacteria do fight back. Therefore a lifetime of continuing care is necessary.
The standard of care is that patients should visit their dental team twice a year. Young people with very good diet and oral hygiene might stretch this to a year. People with active disease (tooth decay or periodontal disease) that has not been stabilized should probably remain on a three month schedule until we are satisfied that the diseases has been brought under control. One other group that probably needs more frequent care is patients with active systemic disease such as heart disease or diabetes and prosthetic joints. Smokers might also belong with this group. These patients should probably increase their care schedule to once every four months for reasons that will be explained at great length in the “Systemic Diseases” section.