Preventative dental care is the practice of a regularly scheduled checkup of an individual's teeth and gums to ensure proper health as well as scheduled cleanings. Many plans provide up to two cleanings per year, with an optimum of three cleanings with some plans per year.
The education of individuals is a large part of the training that goes into care that would be deemed to be preventative. Teaching people why and how they should brush their teeth after meals and flossing techniques is a key aspect of helping people to maintain healthy teeth and gums. The learning process can, and should begin at an early age so that good dental hygiene habits are established.
People should be taught to replace their toothbrushes three or four times per year because the brushes lose their ability to clean with softening bristles and the accumulation of bacteria on the brushes. Proper flossing techniques can also be taught and maintained as a habit.
If regular brushing and flossing are not done regularly, a substance called plaque builds up on the teeth, and will cause decay of the teeth as well as gum disease. Plaque is a sticky residue that forms, and will harden over time, and it is a "flower bed" for the growth of bacteria. Once it hardens, it can get down between the teeth and the gums and cause a condition called gingivitis, which can begin to separate the gum from where it joins the bottom of the tooth. This can allow bacteria to enter in that space and cause infection.
If an infection forms in the gum area, and it is left untreated it can become quite serious, and this is called periodontal disease. Serious periodontal disease can result in the formation of very dangerous abscesses which can become systemic in nature and can cause very problematic conditions to occur. Heart illness and other circulatory problems have been shown to originate with bad dental care.
Your dentist will work out a schedule for preventative dental care, and when followed properly will take care of 99 percent of the dental problems that most people incur. Periodic cleaning goes along with the maintenance, and that takes care of most of the plaque problems that people might have missed with their brushing and flossing.
Most dental plans will cover the majority of the costs that are associated with this type of preventative care, as it prevents the bulk of the high claims that might have to be covered later if poor dental care is continued.