The best definition of comprehensive dental care is whatever type of dental treatment that is required to either maintain your dental health (if you are a “dental youth”), or to restore your dental condition to be as close to a dental youth or dental adult, as possible.
How do people in Columbia get into trouble with their teeth, and why should we restore these teeth? After all, many of us have that family member or relative who is able to eat anything with a minimum of teeth.
There are really Four Reasons Why People get into Trouble with Their Teeth.
1. Decay. Did you know that there are between 32 and 37 types of bacteria in our mouths that cause dental decay? Scary, huh? Dental decay is definitely on the decline, thanks to fluoride, availability of regular dental care, and education about the importance of regular dental care. But for some people, with “bad genes” or who take many medications , dental decay can become rampant and debilitating.
2. Gum Disease (periodontal disease, or what used to be called, ”pyorrhea”). Back in the “old days” of dental care, this was often ignored because there were so many decay related problems to treat! But now, with the well known and published links between gum disease and heart disease, these problems can no longer be ignored. Fortunately, the treatment of gum disease has probably advanced more than any other aspect of dental treatment.
3. Stress. This can be stress on your teeth from improper alignment or bite, or stress that causes abnormal wear (grinding).
Your dental bite is influenced by many things; the health of the jaw joint and associated chewing muscles, the alignment of the teeth, the direction that you chew and the muscle activity of the muscles of your face.
About 10% of people grind their teeth at night (actually about 20% of people grind their teeth during the day!). Many of these folks are totally unaware of this condition, but grinding (bruxism) can accelerate the wear on teeth 10 to 20 times normal!
A dental bite (occlusion) that is misaligned can put extra, unbalanced forces on teeth and chewing muscles. This can also cause extra wear on the teeth or headaches from muscle strain.
4. Medical or systemic problems. Did you know that 25-50% of patients suffer from Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and are totally symptomless? The only sign of the disease is inappropriate wear or loss of enamel on the teeth. So half of all GERD patients could only be diagnosed by your dentist. Unfortunately, undiagnosed or untreated GERD can lead to the pre-cancerous condition of Barrett’s Esophagitis. Many medications today (or just Father Time) can cause “dry mouth syndrome”. Patients with deficient salivary flow often develop extensive tooth decay. Diabetes is another common cause of deficient salivary flow.
Comprehensive dental care is about dentistry that is predictable and long lasting. It considers every aspect of your life, medical condition, and your dental condition. It’s about the dental care that is best for you. We often call this “adult dental care”.
It all starts with an in depth interview with you, to determine your dental goals. We want to determine your dental, medical and emotional history. That’s right , your emotions, your feelings and past experiences can often play a huge role in the dentistry that we will recommend, and how we will go about delivering that care. Part of adult dental care is customizing the treatment plan to satisfy the patient’s dental and emotional needs too!
When there is extensive dental work needed, we go beyond a regular dental checkup (such as a dental youth would require), and complete more of a “dental physical”. This usually involves a complete set of dental x-rays and digital photographs, periodontal (gum) measurements or probing, impressions and bite registrations of your teeth, and analysis of your jaw joints and chewing muscles. Just like when you go to your regular doctor, they order a series of tests if you have advanced problems, we will order tests to study your dental problems. The dental tests are just a little different than the medical tests.
Our goal is to leave no stone unturned, so that we may restore and engineer your teeth to last the maximum time. More importantly, we can use these records to show you and explain to you what is going on in your mouth, so you can make an informed decision about your dental health.
We also want to think that we can “over-engineer” your teeth, to last 20 or more years. Just like buildings and bridges wear out with time, dental materials wear out with time. Today’s materials are much better than just five or ten years ago, but they still will wear out. We just cannot compete or better what the Creator placed first!
Over-engineering does take more time, effort, skill, and judgement, but we don’t want to count on luck! We want to be sure. I’m sure that you do too. Unfortunately, typical dental insurance companies do not reimburse at a level for long lasting, complex dental care. They are more in tune with single tooth, simple dentistry, that usually only lasts three to five years. Regular, “check-up” dentistry that is designed for dental youth and routine dental adults is very different from comprehensive, dental elder dentistry.
If you have comprehensive or complex dental care needs, be sure to find a dentist trained in complex care. You want to ask questions, look at cases similar to yours, ask for testimonials, and ask for credentials and training that the dentist has completed. As you may know, I have had extensive advanced training in all aspects of adult dentistry, far beyond most “regular dentists”.
As you might guess, there is far more to dental care than just these parts. There are also biologic concerns of the gum tissue, cosmetic and smile design components and bifunctional parameters of the chewing mechanism. Your dental success also requires for you to be a partner in your care. We require that you maintain your regular professional hygiene maintenance visits in our office . Don’t worry. We can make it easy and understandable for you!