Guest Reviews | Doctor is In: Preventive dental care: what is it?


Besides brushing and flossing, some of the best steps for good oral hygiene are preventing infections and cavities before they start with routine checkups by your dentist.

Oral health is an essential part of overall well-being. Optimal oral health is achieved through daily personal care, proper nutrition, and regular visits to a dental professional.

Early adulthood can be a time when self-care routines can change for many reasons, including recent independence from home, changes in financial circumstances, and/or transportation. A study showed that almost a third of the students studied (31.3%) had an untreated dental health problem.

This statistic highlights the importance of raising awareness about preventive dental care. This article explains how cavities form, outlines preventive dental care and dental resources available to you.

Understanding cavities (do subtitles, acumin pro condensed black, 11pt)

One of the biggest concerns for patients entering a dental practice is having cavities or other forms of tooth decay.

Cavities occur when plaque, a thin film of bacteria, covers the teeth. These bacteria turn the sugars you drink into an acidic byproduct that breaks down tooth enamel.

If plaque is not cleaned soon enough, it can harden into a substance called scale/tartar. Tartar buildup can spread below the gumline, making teeth harder to clean. Only a dental professional can remove the tartar that accumulates.

Nevertheless, with preventive dentistry, you can minimize your risk of developing these dental complications.


Keep consumption of sugary foods and drinks to a minimum. If you choose to drink sugary drinks, finishing them in under 30 minutes is a good goal to set.

This limits the time for bacteria to attack the acidic environment in your mouth. If you sip sugary drinks throughout the day, it’s a good idea to rinse and drink water intermittently to help clean the oral cavity.

Foods eaten during a meal may cause less damage to teeth than eating snacks throughout the day. More saliva is released during a meal, which helps wash food out of the mouth and reduces the effects of acids.

Importance of preventive dental care

Preventive dentistry is dental care that helps maintain good oral health. It’s a combination of regular dental checkups as well as developing good habits like brushing and flossing.

Prevention is the first and most important part of maintaining good oral health. This is accomplished through a combination of practices such as:

  • Regular oral exams/cleanings (~6 months): dentists can access areas of your mouth that are not accessible by brushing and flossing
  • Teeth cleaning (brushing twice a day and flossing once a day)
  • Routine x-rays: These are important for diagnosing cavities or other problems in the oral/maxillofacial regions that may not be visible on a regular oral exam.

Dental Resources Available for University of Iowa Students

Free dental resources available include Iowa Mission of Mercy, UI College of Dentistry, and Free Clinics of Iowa.

-Ankur Parupally, third year dental student, class of 2023


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