by Phillip H. Durden, D.M.D., M.A.G.D, F.A.A.C.P.
Seems like yesterday we were 20 years old and our teeth were the last thing on our mind, doesn't it? Like the rest of our body, our teeth age, and before you know it, time has caught up with us... old fillings wear out and break down, our gums start to recede and we grind our teeth as we deal with the pressures of daily life. In our practice, we are noticing a trend of new patients with this same story.
"Okay, Doc, so what do I do?"
When it comes to your health, knowledge really is power. It is important to fully understand where you are today.
- To provide patients with complete information, we begin with a thorough dental examination, including necessary xrays, photos, gum measurements and an oral cancer screening.
- Your family medical/dental history plays a significant role in considering your dental future. In dentistry, understanding your ability to fight infection and your family dental patterns (i.e., rate of decay, gum disease, tooth loss) are a key determinant of "where we go from here".
Start with a Game Plan
Our goal in dentistry is to help our patients keep vital teeth for a lifetime. Countless studies support this rationale as part of a healthy body strategy to see us all into a comfortable old age. With the facts in hand, your dentist can help you prioritize your care. Primary concerns include:
# 1 Signs of active infection, such as with gum disease or decay. These are destructive processes that can cause problems with your overall health if not dealt with quickly and assertively. Common symptoms include pain, swelling or bleeding when brushing - if you have any of these, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
# 2 Protecting your teeth. If you have fillings that are breaking down, broken or chipped teeth, these should be restored. There are a number of options available, including tooth-colored fillings, crowns, inlays and onlays.
In protecting your teeth, we must also make sure your bite is stabilized. If you have lost teeth over the years due to trauma or extensive decay, your bite most likely has been compromised.
- In most cases, we recommend replacing missing teeth to distribute the biting forces evenly and prevent other teeth from shifting (which can ultimately result in further damage or the loss of additional teeth).
- One of the most remarkable options to replace missing teeth are dental implants. These tiny surgical cylinders function as a replacement for a lost tooth root. Once in place, they serve as a foundation for a crown, bridge, or as anchors for loose dentures.
#4 Esthetics. Studies show that how you feel about your smile affects your self-confidence in your personal and business relationships. Often we will enhance the appearance of a smile in the course of repairing and rebuilding it to healthy function. Restorations such as porcelain crowns and dental bonding have the look and feel of natural tooth structure.
- Many patients achieve dramatic results with teeth whitening. This easy and affordable smile treatment is a safe and simple approach to help you have a brighter smile.