I’ve listed the things that we are trying to create in our office in the About Us section. Please visit and read if you haven’t already. We’re assuming that you are coming to us seeking the best treatment for your mouth.
If this is the case, here is a list of four points you should remember:
1. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Glare of Technology
Dental gadgets and materials will always improve; some of it is even beneficial. However, the healthiest mouths never see any of it because they don’t need anything more than basic treatment! Yes, we try to keep current on technology, but only if it is of proven benefit to the patient. Two examples:
- We try to use a surgical microscope whenever possible because microscope-enhanced dentistry allows one to see things in the teeth and gums that the human eye cannot. This technology is useful because we can operate in smaller areas, see teeth more clearly, create smaller openings in teeth, find small landmarks more easily, and ultimately, produce a better fit for any dental filling or prosthesis. Plus, it’s better for posture. Everybody wins!
- More than 99% of our fillings are bonded white fillings, so it’s important for us to ensure we are providing the best chemical bond we can. Accordingly, we use air abrasion (think gentle sandblasting) to ensure a clean bonding surface, selective enamel etching with a benzalkonium chloride additive to minimize dentin degradation, and a self-etching high-performance adhesive.
- The result is as strong as a bond as is possible, with less bond degradation over time, and less sensitivity! This takes extra time and care but is worth it for the long-term results.
2. Dental Insurance is Not Looking Out for Your Best Interests
There are more than 50 000 different dental plans in Ontario, each of them subject to change without us knowing. The problem is that current dental plans, regardless of coverage, have absolutely nothing to do with the actual dentistry you need. It is not in their business plan to care either. For the most part, the coverage you have is nothing more than what an employer decided to provide for its employees. On the contrary, our role is primarily to look after your needs. It stands to reason then, that the recommendations we make should not be influenced by your insurance.
When we examine your mouth, we’re going to tell you what we see and whether you could benefit from any treatment. Would you want it any other way? So, in answer to the question “is it covered by my insurance plan?”, the answer can only be “we don’t know, but whatever your coverage is, it will not change our recommendations.” We can help you find out by way of estimates before treatment is begun if it is your desire, but we often find that mouths with treatment dictated by insurance do not benefit from the full scope of modern dentistry.
3. Comprehensive Dentistry is the Best Dentistry
What is comprehensive care? And is there any other kind of care? Comprehensive dental treatment is becoming the norm, and for good reason: it gives you the best long-term results. In the past, dentistry was more accurately described as patchwork or break-and-fix dentistry. If you had a problem with a tooth, you fixed it (or had it extracted), and that was it. There was very little attention paid to factors like what caused the problem in the first place, how to prevent it from happening to other teeth (for example, extracted teeth were often not replaced. This allowed drifting of surrounding teeth and mutilation of the bite.) It was very much a tooth-by-tooth mentality.
Comprehensive dentistry aims to take into account all factors relevant to the long-term health of the teeth. It is no longer enough to merely ask if there is any decay or gum problem. We will also examine:
- Environmental factors that can affect the teeth or gums (acid reflux, oral hygiene)
- Factors that may affect the health of the jaw joints or muscles (uneven bites)
- Factors that affect tooth position (missing teeth not replaced, thumbsucking habits)
- Factors that may cause premature tooth fracture (heavily filled or root-canalled teeth) as well as many not listed here.
The point is this: with a thorough database and your input on what you would like for your mouth, we can provide a more stable, more beautiful smile than could be provided by looking one tooth at a time. The analogy is this: if you examine the wheels of a car and find nothing wrong with each wheel, and conclude that the wheels are OK, that is tooth-by-tooth dentistry. By also looking at wheel alignment as well as driving conditions and habits, that is more characteristic of comprehensive care. One caveat: current insurance plans are geared for tooth-by-tooth 1950’s –style dentistry. Although you may have coverage for many basic procedures, many of the available options for maintaining long-term dental do not enjoy full coverage.
4. Good Oral Hygiene is Key to Good Oral Health
The mouth is a harsh environment – there are all sorts of forces exerted on teeth and periodontium (gums) that contribute to breakdown. They have to tolerate physical challenges such as chewing, grinding, and tearing, and chemical challenges such as acidic foods and drink. All in a wet environment laden with bacteria. Fortunately, your mouth is adapted for this environment and will function properly. The same goes for dental materials, although we have no material that is as good as the real thing. If the oral environment is changed, then teeth, periodontium, and dental materials will not last as long.
That’s why general dentists are so insistent that people keep their teeth clean – we are the ones who see your mouth over the long term, and we see that if there is heavy plaque and bacterial buildup, everything breaks down more quickly. Even the best dentistry. Even perfectly healthy teeth. So, a good regimen of home dental care plus regular visits to a dentist is your best protection against oral disease. We’re not asking for much. Two minutes of quality brushing at least twice a day, daily flossing, and a diet that minimizes snacking.
If you have any further questions, we’re more than happy to dispense advice. You can get in contact with us either by calling our dental office in Barrie at (705) 721-1143 or by sending us a message online.