The American Dental Association recommends you see your dentist every six months. Preventive dental care can help you reduce or avoid future costs by preventing and finding potential issues sooner.
Because many diseases and conditions first show signs in your mouth, good dental health and a strong relationship with your dental office are important steps in your overall health.
Sealants are a plastic resin material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of premolars and molars (your back teeth). Sealants act as a barrier to protect your enamel from plaque and acids that contribute to dental decay. Sealants protect the deep depressions and grooves of your teeth that toothbrush bristles cannot reach.
Sealants are easily applied and take only a few minutes for each tooth. Sealants will be checked at each appointment to make sure they are retained, and will generally last several years before reapplication is needed.
All children and adults who participate in contact sports should wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth against blows to the face or mouth. A properly fitted mouthguard can help prevent broken teeth and injuries to the lips, tongue, face or jaw.
While there are many types of mouthguards, including "boil and bite" options, the best is a custom-made mouthguard, designed specifically for your teeth. Ask your Merit Dental dentist about custom options to protect your smile.
Our dentists provide comprehensive patient exams that include:
- Medical history review
- Evaluation of existing dental conditions and treatment recommendations
- Oral cancer screening
- Smile evaluation
- Blood pressure screening
- A review of any concerns you may have
- X-rays (based on need)
- Risk assessment for dental decay
- Evaluation of the jaw and joint (TMJ)
- Periodontal screening to determine health of your gums and supporting structures
The doctor will review all findings and discuss possible treatment options to help you achieve the smile you deserve.
Fluoride can be an important part of preventing tooth decay in patients of all ages. During your visit, we will determine your risk for dental decay by discussing your diet, home care, previous decay history, illnesses and prescription medications.
Fluoride treatment can be done in the office, or at home.
In the office: Treatment can be done during your regular exam using a tray with gel or foam fluoride. A more highly concentrated fluoride varnish that is brushed onto your teeth can also be used.
At home: Options for fluoride treatment include prescription toothpastes or a daily rinse. It is important to follow all recommendations made by your dentist and to also be aware of the fluoride levels in your water.
Oral Cancer Screening
Oral cancer can be life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated early. Merit Dental offices provide oral cancer screenings as part of your regular dental exam.
There are two main risk factors for oral cancer. Smoking and tobacco use are long-term historic causes of oral cancer. In addition, the HPV-16 virus, a sexually-transmitted disease, is resulting in the fastest-growing segment of oral cancer patients being young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals.
The Symptoms of Oral Cancer Include:
- Sores in the mouth that bleed easily or do not heal
- A thick or hard spot or lump
- A roughened or crusted area
- Numbness, pain or tenderness
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
When found early, oral cancers have an 80 to 90 percent survival rate. Dentists can be a first line of defense in identifying abnormalities in the mouth, which could be a sign of oral cancer.