Dr. Marc Lazare, one of the leading general and cosmetic dentists in New York City, provides optimal dental care and education for patients of all ages. At our practice, preventive dental care is emphasized to help our patients avoid future oral and dental problems and to keep current concerns from turning into far more serious conditions. Here’s what you should know about preventive dentistry at our New York practice so you can keep your teeth healthy for many years to come.
Dental Care Steps
Preventive dentistry involves the maintenance steps and preventative action a person takes to ensure proper dental and oral health.
The main preventive dental care steps everyone should be practicing include:
- Regular dental check-ups
- Proper nutrition
- Consistent home care for the teeth and gums.
Practicing good oral hygiene is important, especially in a child’s developing years to prevent serious dental problems like periodontal disease and tooth decay later on in life.
Preventive Dentistry Services
Dr. Marc Lazare offers various preventative services to help his patients achieve optimal dental health. These include:
At-Home Dental Care
Perhaps the most important component of successful preventive dentistry is how well a patient takes care of their teeth and oral health at home. Proper at-home dental care involves a combination of a nutritious diet, proper brushing and flossing techniques, and monitoring one’s oral health for early signs of gum disease and other dental problems.
All dental professionals agree that everyone should properly brush their teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled or electric toothbrush to remove plaque and fight decay. Ideally, you should brush once in the morning, after breakfast, and once more right before you go to sleep at night so that nothing is left on or in between your teeth while you are sleeping. It’s also a good idea to brush after meals and snacks, or after taking medicines if you can.
Just like brushing, it is very important to floss your teeth regularly (at least once per day and preferably just before you go to sleep) to remove food debris and plaque from in between your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Another great reason to floss is that recent studies have shown that flossing helps to prevent heart attacks and strokes by preventing bacteria in the mouth from entering the bloodstream. Here are some tips to help you floss better:
- Take out a floss string piece about 18 inches long
- Wrap it around your middle fingers for full control and dexterity
- Hold the floss between your thumb and index finger
- Starting at the base of the gums, work the floss in a circular motion upward away from the gums
- Clean between both sides of each tooth before moving to the next one
The right toothpaste, coupled with proper brushing and flossing techniques, will effectively remove plaque, a sticky, harmful film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and causes cavities, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss if not controlled.
Most toothpaste also contains fluoride, which makes the entire tooth structure more resistant to tooth decay, helps in removing superficial stains, and leaves your mouth with a clean, fresh feeling. It doesn’t matter what kind of toothpaste you use, as long as it contains fluoride.
Other dental aids that work very well to help clean the teeth are pre-brushing rinses like Plax, and post-brushing antiseptic mouthwash designed to help kill germs between your teeth.
Water jet irrigators, such as Waterpiks, are effective for cleaning in between the teeth, especially for people who do not have the dexterity to floss properly.
Proxy brushes (interdental brushes designed to remove plaque and debris in open areas between the teeth) and Stim-U-Dents (thin wooden toothpicks made of orangewood) are also great for removing debris that gets trapped between the teeth.
Where to buy Stim-U-Dents and other dental aids? Most are available at your local drugstore.
Your tongue is the most retentive surface in your mouth, harboring bacteria within its Velcro-like surface. Often causing bad breath and plaque build-up, your tongue needs regular cleaning to remove plaque. Tooth brushing alone does not clean our mouths, and mouth rinses only mask bad breath for a short time.
It has been found that 90% of halitosis originates from the mouth, with 80% of it originating in the posterior third of the tongue. The only definite way to remove those volatile sulfur compounds is to learn the proper tongue brushing technique. Ask your dentist if you’re not sure how to clean your tongue with baking soda or toothpaste.
Though it technically doesn’t matter whether you perform tongue scraping before or after brushing, doing so after you’re done cleaning your teeth is advised to remove any gunk that is left in your mouth.
One way to keep your teeth and gums healthy is through fluoride intake. Fluoride helps prevent dental decay by strengthening the tooth’s enamel and making it more resistant to acids, harmful bacteria, and cavities. Fluoride toothpaste and gels are also used to help control tooth sensitivity when the roots are exposed, as well as dry mouth (xerostomia). There are many ways to safely consume fluoride, some of which are:
- Fluoride toothpaste and gels
- Sugar-free gums with fluoride
- Fluoride trays
- Pills & capsules
Despite its benefits, there are cases when fluoride is both good and bad. Though fluoride in small quantities is good for oral health, high intake can cause fluorosis, which leads to discoloration like white spots, mainly in children with developing teeth.
People with special dental needs may require more frequent fluoride treatments. Many patients use the following:
- Fluoride trays for sensitive teeth
- Fluoride trays for dry mouth
- At-home fluoride trays
- Dentist-administered fluoride
New York specialist Dr. Marc Lazare often incorporates fluoride into his patients’ preventative care plans. If he recommends at-home treatments, patients can purchase fluoride trays from Amazon or other retailers. For more information on getting a professional New York fluoride treatment, dentist Dr. Marc Lazare will be happy to answer your questions.
Nutrition and Diet
Another important step towards proper preventive dental and oral care is to evaluate your nutritional and dietary choices. The foods we eat affect our dental health as well as our overall physical health and well-being. The CDC writes that nearly half of all adults over 30 years of age have signs of gum disease, which is often influenced by a poor diet.
Let’s face it — most people do not eat well. Even bodybuilders, athletes, and movie stars (who look as if they are eating a healthy diet) may not be getting all of the nutrition that they need. The results of these poorly balanced diets are evident in the mouths of our patients.
Years of ingesting sugar-loaded sodas, sweet carbonated drinks, and junk food will take a toll on your dental health and eventually lead to tooth decay. Poor nutrition and a lack of certain key nutrients increase the risk of developing oral diseases, exposing the mouth to infection and periodontal disease.
Recent studies have shown that there is also a direct link between periodontal disease and serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. This is just one of the many reasons why eating well for a healthy mouth is so key. Stick to healthy foods and load up on fruits and veggies to keep your teeth clean.
Stay away from any food or snack that could become trapped within the pits and grooves of your teeth or between them. These foods, once stuck and ignored, can become harmful if not removed. Chewy candy (i.e. taffies, caramels, jelly beans, and licorice) are among the biggest cavity culprits.
However, you may be surprised to know that nuts, raisins, and dried fruits can also cause a lot of damage since they get readily stuck in and around the teeth. Additionally, carbohydrates in foods such as pretzels and potato chips get broken down into the same sugars that are found in cakes and cookies.
Any food debris left on the tooth creates an acid attack in the mouth to break it down. The less likely the food is to dissolve or rinse away, the longer the acid attacks will last. Chocolate, which is full of sugar, is not as bad for your teeth as dried fruit and nuts, because chocolate dissolves quickly. However, you may unintentionally prolong an acid attack by eating or drinking things slowly over a longer period.
After eating these types of foods, you should always brush your teeth. If you can’t get to a brush right away, you should rinse well with water and chew sugar-free gum for 5 minutes to help neutralize the acids in your mouth and lift out the debris from within the grooves of your teeth. This is especially important for individuals with a dry mouth.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals play a crucial role in dental care and in helping the body combat bleeding and swollen gums, loosening of teeth, decay and bad breath. Vitamins and minerals help in:
- Forming antibodies
- Fighting bacteria and infection
- The responsiveness of one’s immune system
Many other factors affect the way vitamins and minerals are absorbed into our system. Stress, smoking, alcohol, drugs (pharmaceutical and recreational), pollution, and various medical conditions can all prevent us from receiving the full benefits of a well-balanced meal.
Both vitamins and minerals share a symbiotic relationship. Vitamins cannot be used or absorbed without the presence of minerals, and minerals cannot be made by our bodies; we must ingest them through food and supplements. In addition to proper dental care at home and routine dental check-ups, nutritional supplements can help to keep your mouth and body strong and healthy.
The Effect Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency Have on Oral Health
The mouth is a mirror to the immune system. Unhealthy, bleeding gums are the first signs of vitamin and mineral deficiency. The lack of magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, vitamin E, or vitamin C can allow the rapid destruction of cell membranes, compromising the structural integrity of the cells, leading to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Dietary deficiencies have been associated with oral health conditions such as osteoporosis of the surrounding bone, loss of taste, bad breath, and mouth and tongue sores. Deficiencies in vitamin C, iron and zinc can compromise the resistance of our gum tissue to the bacteria in dental plaque.
Bleeding gums attract scavenging bacteria, and the bacterial digestion of blood creates unpleasant mouth odors. It is a vicious cycle that can be quelled by proper oral hygiene and the use of alternate dental care like herbal remedies as an adjunct to conventional therapies. Eating a well-balanced diet and taking nutritional supplements will help to strengthen one’s immune system, promote healing, help prevent oral cancers, and build healthy teeth and gums.
Alternative Dental Care
Though not widely used, natural or alternative dental care techniques can be beneficial. Natural healing has been a valid form of treatment for centuries. Sadly, the abuse and misuse of natural substances may have hindered the development of alternative therapies as an acceptable means of treating disease in western societies.
Some of what is alternative today may become conventional tomorrow. After all, nature has been known to create substances that are capable of achieving the same or similar results that have been developed by modern science. Keep in mind that several western medicines have been derived from natural substances.
Studies have found that a third of the people polled admitted to using at least one alternative treatment within the past year. Dental health care providers should have the following questions on their medical/drug history form: “Are you currently taking any herbal or natural homeopathic remedies?” and “if so, are you under the supervision of an alternative therapist?” If these questions are not one of the questions on the form, then please make sure to tell your dentist (and other doctors) exactly what you are taking.
What are some alternative therapies for gum inflammation?
Herbal dentistry can be very effective. Studies have proven that by placing aloe vera-soaked gauze over an extraction site or periodontal surgical site, it significantly reduces the post-operative pain and side effects like swelling and bleeding.
Aloe vera has been used internally and externally for many centuries and it has been confirmed by clinical research that the plant:
- Anesthetizes tissue
- Kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi
- Helps stop bleeding
- Is an antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, and capillary dilator
- Enhances cell growth
- Moisturizes tissues
Aloe vera is one of the recommended herbal remedies for oral lichen planus, angular cheilitis (irritations around the corners of the mouth), dry lips, and herpes. In addition to aloe vera, some other herbal remedies can suppress inflammation with fewer side effects than currently available pharmaceuticals.
Echinacea has gained popularity in the United States, being hailed by some to be an immune system “booster,” an antimicrobial agent, and an antiviral agent. Goldenseal is used for its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and immune-strengthening properties.
Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a bioflavonoid complex that possesses anti-inflammatory activities and inhibits the release of certain compounds that influence inflammation. Additionally, grapefruit seed extract treats cold sores and strengthens dentin. Other anti-inflammatory agents include calendula, bloodroot, wild yam, licorice, fenugreek, and figwort.
Frequently Asked Questions
The main goal of preventive dental care is to ensure a healthy mouth and strong, healthy teeth. Dental maintenance lessens your chance of developing serious oral diseases like periodontal issues, dental decay, and more. It also improves your overall health and quality of life, allowing you to maintain a beautiful smile and functional teeth for decades.
Patients of all ages can benefit from Dr. Lazare’s preventive dental care services. It’s important to set kids up for success by encouraging good habits from a young age. You can find more information regarding dental care for kids on our pediatric dentistry page.
Brushing your teeth and tongue with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is one of the least abrasive, yet most effective tooth cleaners on the market today. Various clinical and lab studies show that toothpaste containing baking soda neutralizes acids and odors, removes plaque and deep tooth stain more readily than other leading kinds of toothpaste, and leaves your mouth fresh and feeling very clean. Brushing your tongue with baking soda is also ideal since the baking soda kills harmful bacteria that lead to Streptococcus and Candida (white tongue).
It is recommended that you floss after you brush. Flossing before brushing can be very messy for most people. Additionally, flossing in a mouth that contains a lot of debris can only serve to introduce more bacteria into the gum pockets. If a person brushes very well, they should be able to better visualize what they are trying to accomplish with the floss.
Like many western drugs, herbal remedies have potential risks, side effects, and drug interactions that can interfere with traditional western medicines and affect the safe practice of dentistry. The FDA currently regulates prescription and over-the-counter drugs but not herbal preparations.
As a result, the dental profession must continue to increase its level of understanding and education about these alternative medications and treatments so that these new generations of dental patients are treated safely and effectively.
Why Choose Dr. Lazare?
- B.A. University of Pennsylvania (Major: Natural Sciences)
- D.D.S. New York University College of Dentistry (Class President)
- Master in the Academy of General Dentistry – Awarded in 2011
- Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry
- Fellow in the International Academy for Dental-Facial Esthetics
- Expert in biomimetic dentistry
- Cosmetic dental specialist
- “Dentist to the Stars”
- Committed to patients’ education and oral health
Contact the Upper East Side New York, NY office of Dr. Lazare at 212-861-2599.