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. If you didn’t read the note about insurance (above) please give it a glance.