Preventive Care

Oral Hygiene

A comprehensive program of preventive care is the most important service we provide our patients. That program is delivered in our dental hygiene department, the largest component of our practice, the sole purpose of which is prevention. Prevention begins with the control of plaque and calculus (tartar), the main cause of tooth decay and periodontal (gum) diseases. Our goal is simply to keep our patients’ teeth, gums and supporting structures healthy.

At Columbus Family Dental Care, our hygienists, as well as our entire staff, have had extensive continuing education in the latest techniques in preventive dentistry. Along with Dr. Dixon, they will develop an oral hygiene program that is appropriate for you, including an ongoing cleaning schedule, which may be every 3, 4, or 6 months. In addition, they will provide you with home care instruction and whatever take home materials may be necessary to maintain your healthy mouth in between preventive care visits. 

The cornerstone to a good oral hygiene regimen is proper brushing and flossing habits. For more on brushing and flossing, see our Brushing & Flossing page.

Tooth Decay Prevention

Tooth decay is a progressive disease resulting in the interaction of bacteria that naturally occur on the teeth and sugars in the everyday diet. Sugar causes a reaction in the bacteria, causing it to produce lactic acid that breaks down the mineral structure of teeth, forming a hole or cavity. A dentist removes the soft decayed portion of the tooth and restores (fills) it using a variety of materials, leaving the tooth in a healthy state. Nerve damage can result from severe decay and may require a crown (a crown is like a large filling that covers a tooth, making it stronger). Avoiding unnecessary decay simply requires strict adherence to a dental hygiene regimen: brushing and flossing twice a day, regular dental check-ups, diet control and fluoride treatment. Practicing good hygiene avoids unhealthy teeth and costly treatment.


Radiographs or X-rays are an important part of any dental examination and help show the condition of your teeth, jaws, joints, sinuses, and the bones of your face. They allow Dr. Dixon to see where a visual examination is not possible, such as under the gums or between the teeth.

Columbus Family Dental Care is one of only a few central Ohio dental offices that use digital radiography exclusively - we no longer use film. The advantages of being fully digital include being able to view X-ray images on our computer monitors instantly with no time wasted or mess involved as was the case with developing film. We can now enhance and manipulate these images, send them electronically, e-mail and print them. The best advantage for our patients, however, is the dramatic reduction in radiation necessary to capture the x-ray image – up to 90% less than with film!

We typically use two types of radiographic images at our office, periapical (or bitewing) and panoramic. The periapical images require patients to either hold or bite on a plastic device that holds the digital sensor (not film) in the mouth in the correct position. These images are used to determine the presence of decay in between the teeth, as well as show the root structure, and surrounding bone. These are done on an as-needed basis; and, are usually repeated annually as part of our patients’ preventive care visits. The panoramic image allows Dr. Dixon to see your entire mouth at once. We typically take this image every five years, and use it to check the jaw joints, facial bones, sinuses, and wisdom teeth.

As a patient of our office, your radiographic needs are based on Dr. Dixon’s judgment. We only prescribe them when they are absolutely necessary.


When the back teeth, the bicuspids and molars, are developing, pits and fissures form in the chewing surfaces of the enamel. These areas are impossible to keep clean, because the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach down into them. Pits and fissures are snug places for plaque and food to hide; and, this is where 75% of dental caries (cavities) form.

In order to prevent caries from forming in these vulnerable pits and fissures, we routinely place sealants. A sealant is a plastic resin material that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the bicuspids and molars. This resin bonds to the tooth and acts as a barrier, protecting it from plaque and acids. It only takes a few minutes to seal each tooth, and this is usually done by one of our hygienists. The teeth to be sealed are first cleaned and conditioned to help the resin adhere. Next, the resin is painted on and allowed to harden.

As long as the sealant remains intact, the area sealed will be protected from decay. They hold up well under the force of normal chewing and should last many years. During your regular preventive care visits, your hygienist will check the condition of the sealants and repair or reapply them at no charge for a period of five years. Remember that prevention is better than treatment. Since they are extremely effective in preventing pit and fissure decay, properly applied and maintained sealants can result in savings in both dollars and potential discomfort.


Found throughout nature in water, soil, air, and naturally occurring in our own bodies, fluoride is a very important part of dentistry. It is absorbed easily into tooth enamel, especially in children’s growing teeth. Fluoride contributes to the mineral structure of teeth in much the same way calcium does, but fluoride stays a part of that mineral structure better and is less likely to dissolve out of it as calcium can. Therefore the more fluoride your teeth have as a part of their mineral structure, the harder and more resistant to decay they will be.

This is why systemic fluoride is so valuable, particularly for young children who are just now developing teeth. Systemic fluoride is that which has been added to public and private drinking water. Once this low concentration of fluoride is absorbed by the body, it is deposited in hard tissues like bone and teeth. It is better to have teeth develop with built-in fluoride “hardness” than to have to try to add it later to “soft” teeth as a topical supplement.

Topical fluoride, professionally-administered, such as gels, rinses or varnishes, are applied by your hygienist, usually at your preventive care visits. For patients with a high risk of caries, we may dispense or prescribe a take-home gel for home use.