March 2, 2013
I think that there are times when patients are not sure what we are trying to do. I will try to clarify what we as the dental team are trying to accomplish.
When we examine a patient, either for the first time,at recare visits or during an emergency visit, there are several things that should be considered. First, an easy one, pain. One of our priorities is to determine the causes of pain that a patient reports. Frequently we will question the patient to help identify the source. Is pain constant? Temperature related? What is the duration? How long have you noticed the discomfort. These questions along with other diagnostic aids such as visual examination and dental xrays will aid us in determining ways to eliminate pain.
A second area we must address is the elimination of disease. There are several types that we see frequently. Caries, or more commonly dental decay. Periodontal disease, or gum disease is also common. Occlusal disease is the loss of tooth structure through excessive wear, chemical(ie acid) attack or trauma. And certainly we must be on the lookout for any soft tissue changes that could be cancerous.
And finally, we must check the health of the jaw joint or TMJ’s.
So with this information, what are the goals of treatment. For me, there are three. 1. Eliminate disease. 2. Restore form and function. 3.Create stability. In upcoming posts, I will break down these three goals and relate them to what we see during our examinations.
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