April 26, 2010
Today I would like to discuss the wide range of treatment choices available to patients today. As I discussed in an earlier post, all treatment decisions must begin with an appropriate examination and diagnosis. After a diagnosis has been made, a discussion should now ensue between the patient and the dentist which should outline all the treatment options available , the implications of the various options, and the implications of no treatment.
One of the important aspects of treatment choices is the priority of the problem. A cornerstone of our practice is that we must treat and control active disease and/or pain. Unfortunately, dental diseases are progressive, which means they will continue to get worse without treatment. Tooth decay, gum disease and bite instability(tooth wear, jaw joint pain, mobile teeth) all get worse without intervention. Obviously, the earlier the dental team can address these issues, the easier and less costly the treatment will be. So, in our office, these areas must be addressed. It should be noted that a patient does have the right to refuse treatment but only after being informed of the problem and the implications of no treatment.
After we have addressed our active disease issues, we now get into areas that allow more choices to treat an individuals concerns. If a patient is unhappy with their smile, a number of options are available usually. Some might be simple, such as bleaching and/or cosmetic bonding and others may be much more comprehensive such as essentially rebuilding a dentition that has been severely damaged. The most important point that I would like to conclude with is that any treatment decision should be made only after the patient is educated about their particular problem so the patient can make the proper treatment decision for themselves.
March 13, 2010
Today, I would like to discuss the varioud types of dental examinations that we use to aid in appropriate treatment. The first examination that I will discuss is the comprehensive oral evaluation. As the name implies, this is an examination that should involve the entire oral complex. This exam is done most frequently with a patient who is new to a dental practice or who has not been seen by their dentist for a number of years. During this exam, we will review the patients current and past medical history as well as the patients current and past dental history. There is often much to be learned before even looking in the patients mouth. A patients expectations, past dental treatment and anxiety level can all be discussed to aid in making the patient more comfortable and informed. Once we begin to examine the patient we will look at much more than teeth. We will also look at the patients periodontal(gums)health. This is accomplished by measuring the space between the teeth and gums.Excessive tooth wear or mobility of teeth should also be noted. The comprehensive exam will also include an oral cancer screening and a review of any bite or TMJ(jaw joint) issues. After a visual examination, often a complete set of dental x-rays will be imaged. A complete radiographic series should be accomplished every 3-5 years depending on the patients condition. Occasionally, diagnostic molds of the teeth will be taken as well as photographs of the mouth. All of this information will be used to determine the level of health and potential need for treatment.
The next exam to discuss would be the periodic exam. This is accomplished during the patients recare visits. A review of the medical and dental histories will be accomplished. Since the patient is known to the practice the depth of the exam is lessened but still involves evaluation of entire oral cavity. This exam can be done by the dental hygienist or dentist, and commonly both. The need for current x-rays will be evaluated depending on the patients condition. The patient should have the results of the exam discussed, as well as any recommendations for necessary treatment.
The most obvious dental examination is the problem focused, or “emergency” exam. This type of exam would take place when the patient realizes that they have a problem and need to seek dental care. Commonly this would occur with the fracture of a tooth or filling or the occurance of pain or trauma. As you would imagine, a diagnosis will need to be made before treatment is rendered , and arriving at the correct diagnosis can be quite obvious, or it can be quite a challenge. Visual examination, past dental history, and appropriate dental xrays are all tools to aid in arriving at a correct diagnosis.
Hopefully, this discussion will help our patients understand that not all dental exams are the same. Each is critical to optimal dental health to the individuals that we treat.
February 22, 2010
Welcome to my blog. It is my intention to post information two or three times a month that you will hopefully find interesting and relevant. Today, I would like to discuss some reasons why teeth break. Obviously, trauma that occurs during sports or an automobile accident can fracture teeth. Also, if you have a tooth that has decayed sufficiently enough to undermine one or more of its surfaces, this can cause your tooth to break as well. Another less known reason is that your tooth can fracture due to the size of the fillings they comtain and the existence of cracks in them. Fillings, especially silver amalgam, due nothing to strengthen teeth, in fact they weaken them.
If the fracture is slight, the tooth may be simply smoothed and polished. If the fracture is more significant, it will require a bonded tooth colored filling . In more severe situations, a filling may not be adequate to restore the shape of the tooth, and a crown may be required to restore function.
Anticipating problems before they occur is more predictable, less stressful, and certainly more cost effective. I can not over-emphasize the importance of regular periodic examinations as this will enable us to identify teeth that are at risk for fracture. Dental x-rays are also an important tool that we use in conjunction with visual examinations to guide us in making sound treatment decisions. So we look forward to seeing you in the near futures, and will welcome the opportunity to discuss any concerns that you might have.
February 5, 2010
Consider this blog your news resource for information about oral health, dental procedures and technology, and what’s happening at your dentist’s office. We believe communication is key to building great doctor-patient relationships, and this dental blog is intended to keep us in touch with you. The best part is, you can simply bookmark this page in your browser, then visit whenever you like! Stay tuned for regular posts that will keep you informed.