Preventive Dentistry in Nashville
At David Dickerson, DDS, our Nashville dental team is dedicated to helping patients achieve and maintain their healthiest smiles and preserve natural dental structures for life. That all starts with a solid foundation of preventive dental care in our office and at home. We welcome patients from Nashville, Belle Meade, and other nearby locations, and we are happy to welcome patients of all ages. Contact our friendly team to find out more or schedule your preventive checkup today.
Checkups & Cleanings
Dr. Dickerson and his team recommend that patients of any age visit our office at least two times each year. During these six month dental checkups, we’re able to evaluate patients’ smiles for signs of common oral health concerns, answer questions, thoroughly clean teeth, and make recommendations for ongoing care in order to preserve oral health for life. Each six month checkup includes the following four components:
- Diagnostics – digital x-rays allows us to diagnose developmental concerns, tooth decay, and other potential issues accurately and begin treatment planning in the earliest stages in order to offer conservative care.
- Evaluation – Dr. Dickerson carefully examines each patients’ smiles screening for signs of the most common oral health concerns including tooth decay, gum disease, bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching), temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, and oral cancer.
- Cleaning – one of our skilled hygienists carefully removes plaque and tartar from even the hardest to access parts of patients’ smiles preventing oral health concerns. Our hygienists are also happy to answer your oral hygiene questions and demonstrate best at home care methods.
- Consultation – Each patient meets one on one with Dr. Dickerson to review their diagnostic x-rays and any areas of concern discovered during the evaluation. The doctor is happy to answer questions, explain possible treatment options, and will work in partnership with patients to develop an ongoing care plan.
We welcome patients to bring the whole family to our Nashville dental practice. Our dentist and team have years of training and experience working with young patients and their unique oral health and behavioral needs. We’re happy to work with young patients to develop great oral hygiene habits, and are dedicated to helping patients keep their natural smiles for life. We offer a number of treatment options specifically geared toward developing smiles including fluoride treatments, dental sealants, athletic mouthguards, and wisdom tooth extraction. Just like our approach to adult care, we create a personalized treatment plan for each of our young patients as well because no two smiles are alike. We recommend kids make their first visit to the dentist within six months of the eruption of their first baby tooth. During this visit, we’ll carefully examine the child’s developing dental structures, and unless we notice signs for concern best treated by a pediatric dentistry specialist, we work with parents to plan for ongoing care at our office.
As teeth are formed below the gum line, ingested fluoride found in tap water and certain foods helps strong, durable dental structures form. Once teeth erupt from the gums, ingested fluoride has little impact on the health of patients’ smiles. Instead, topical fluoride becomes essential to keeping teeth strong. Fluoride on the surface of teeth attracts minerals that strengthen tooth enamel and repel decay causing bacteria fortifying smiles. Many patients receive adequate topical fluoride from the toothpastes or mouthwashes they use daily, but kids who are still developing their oral hygiene techniques and adults who struggle with frequent tooth decay may benefit from additional topical fluoride applications. We are able to quickly apply professional-grade fluoride treatments as part of any regular dental checkups. We simply place fluoride in an application tray that resembles those used for at home whitening or paint the fluoride onto patients’ teeth as needed.
One of the fastest and most effective ways to protect patients’ smiles from the potentially damaging effects of bacteria and plaque. Like fluoride treatments, dental sealants can be applied as part of any dental checkup, and while they are most frequently recommended for kids, sealants may be beneficial to those adults who are more prone to tooth decay. Dental sealants are essentially a clear, plastic coating over the teeth that seals out decay causing bacteria. We most often recommend them for the back teeth, molars, as these teeth have deep crevices where bacteria can colonize leading to decay. With proper care, sealants protect teeth for up to ten years.
Oral Cancer Screenings
Many of our patients who don’t use tobacco products think that oral cancer screenings are unnecessary, but actually, more than 25% of those diagnosed with oral cancer each year do not engage in any of the high risk behaviors. Oral cancer claims one life an hour on average, but with early diagnosis, oral cancers typically respond well to treatment. Unfortunately, most patients are diagnosed in the late stages, and less than 50% of those diagnosed go on to live five additional years. With startling numbers like these, it’s no surprise that oral cancer screening is an integral part of each preventive dental checkup. We carefully examine patients’ smiles looking for signs of oral cancer including:
- Flat white or red spots on the soft tissue
- Sores or hard bumps that don’t clear up after a few weeks
- Sore throat, hoarse voice, or difficulty swallowing
Nightguards for TMJ & Bruxism Therapy
While temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction and bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) have different causes and side effects, they may both be treated by wearing a nightguard. TMJ dysfunction is strain or damage to the joints connecting the jaw to the skull bone causing limited mobility, jaw pain, and other adverse oral health effects. Bruxism is the unconscious grinding and clenching of teeth, usually during sleep that may be caused by stress, habit, or bite misalignment. Nightguards are customized oral appliances that place a barrier between teeth preventing the potential damage of nighttime grinding and clenching. Additionally, these guards are crafted to allow the jaw to rest comfortably in the ideal position reducing strain on the jaw, and reversing the painful side effects of TMJ dysfunction for many patients after one or more weeks of nightly wear. There are non-custom options available, but these solutions rarely offer the same level of effectiveness in treating bruxism that is possible with the custom solutions, and are not helpful in treating TMJ dysfunction.
For patients of any age who participate in sports where their teeth may come in contact with hard surfaces, other players, or sporting equipment, we recommend wearing an athletic mouthguard, also called a sportsguard, to protect teeth during each event. Store bought varieties are available from sporting goods stores. However, these options are often bulky or uncomfortable leading to patients neglecting to wear them consistently. Custom crafted varieties from our office are much more comfortable and effective.
Dental emergencies don’t have to be stressful or frightening. Dr. Dickerson and his Nashville team are happy to offer same day treatment whenever possible for patients of record. If we are unable to see patients on the day they call or their emergency is not severe enough to merit same day care, we take time to carefully explain first aid methods to keep their smiles whole and healthy until they arrive at our Nashville dental practice.