Preventative dental care services are simply aimed at preventing more serious dental problems in the future. It differs from correcting a problem that has already developed. For example, a demineralized section of your dental enamel can be restored with a fluoride treatment, preventing a cavity from forming (which may have been inevitable without preventative intervention). Everyone will benefit from preventative dental treatment, which is generally performed as part of your regular checkups. However, there are some people whose existing medical conditions may lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. As such, preventative dental care can take on even greater importance.
Poorly-managed diabetes increases the sucrose content in your saliva. This is great news for the cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria present in your mouth but is bad news for your teeth. In addition to the direct corrosion of your teeth, a buildup of plaque becomes more likely, leading to gingivitis, which can lead to destructive periodontal disease.
Kidney disease can affect your immune system. This means that minor gum disease can become quite serious, quite quickly. The inflammation of your gums won't be pleasant and can lead to bacteria entering your bloodstream, which can be serious for an already-compromised immune system.
Arthritis may compromise your ability to properly clean your teeth. Joint stiffness and pain can mean that you're simply able to adequately keep your teeth clean. Parkinson's disease and its associated tremors can also make it difficult to maintain an adequate level of dental hygiene.
Acid reflux allows corrosive stomach acids to enter your mouth. These acids can have a devastating effect on your dental enamel, stripping it away and removing the tooth's natural protection. Some people are affected by acid reflux in isolation, but it can also be a byproduct of certain eating disorders (namely bulimia) and even opioid addiction.
Dementia and other degenerative neurological conditions can affect dental health, mainly when a patient simply neglects their oral hygiene.
Anyone diagnosed with amelogenesis imperfecta is at greater risk of tooth decay. This is a malformation of your dental enamel, which may be thin, missing in sections, or missing entirely.
What to Do
If you're at a greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease, you need to do everything within your power to minimize that risk. You may benefit from regular preventative treatments, such as fluoride treatments or dental sealants (a thin layer of latex applied to the tooth for added protection). Additionally, your dentist may suggest that you visit them more often so that potential problems are noted while preventative care is still possible.
Your dentist can also help you formulate a plan to maintain your oral hygiene at home. This can include recommending specific dental products, as well as upgrading your tools. For example, someone with joint pain may find it easier to properly clean their teeth with an electric toothbrush and a water flosser, as opposed to a manual toothbrush and dental floss.
Preventative dental care is important for absolutely everybody but is arguably more important for those whose health puts them at an increased risk of dental problems.