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Evidence-based dentistry, and what it means for you.

No dental office can say that it has the best dentist in Barrie.  Being the “best” is more often a subjective opinion, and truthfully this depends on human interaction as well as clinical acumen.

Our goal is to provide the best dentistry that we can offer, and this means relying on the best evidence available to us.  This is also then modified to fit the realities of modern dentistry – patient preferences, operator familiarity, and of course affordability.

We wrote recently that early detection of problems is important to preventing bigger problems.  But what if even early problems could be prevented?  That is Risk Assessment, and that would be the best dentistry.  Not just the best dentistry in Barrie, but the best dentistry, period.  This is the power of evidence-based dentistry.  By aggregating data from large populations, a better understanding of disease can be used to prevent disease.

Imagine if we can predict those who are at greatest risk of a heart attack.  Those people could then take measures to lower their risk, whether that be by lifestyle modifications (weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking), or possibly by medications (improved diabetes or cholesterol management).

Guess what – we can!  A simple online questionnaire on the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s website will give you your risk.  The American Heart Association has a risk assessment tool as well.

This is the way we are moving towards practicing dentistry here, and although Barrie is not Toronto, there is no reason not to be on the leading edge.  Dentistry now has more and more tools at our disposal to assess risk for certain diseases, and over the next few years, you will see more of them introduced into our dental office.

You can see how periodontology (the gum specialists) has implemented a similar risk questionnaire on their website, for the prediction of gum disease risk.

These risk assessments are not able to catch every person with every type of disease, but put us on to the path of more customized medicine.  As technology moves on, we will be able to pick up more and more diseases early on (salivary diagnostics come to mind, where minute bits of proteins found in saliva can be analyzed Star-Trek-style for diseases that have no other signs).

We have repeatedly advised our patients that dental insurance does not care about the health of your teeth.  All they do is provide coverage for a predetermined set of codes as agreed to by the purchaser of the insurance plan.  Unfortunately, the dentistry of insurance plans is stuck in a 1950’s break-and-repair mentality.  Which is to say, that as we introduce more tools to predict risk (and these may not just be questionnaires), the fees will increasingly not be covered by dental insurance plans.

Is it worth it?  Perhaps you can ask the person who had a heart attack whether he or she would like to have known about the risk beforehand.

We’ve pushed prevention since the earliest days – everyone knows that brushing and flossing are important.  Now we’re moving towards a more sophisticated type of prevention; one that can be customized based on your individual risk.

Please contact us for a complete exam of your teeth and peri-oral tissues, and we hope you’ll find that you want to make us your dental office in Barrie.

Dr. Elston Wong Portrait

About Dr. Elston Wong

Dr. Elston Wong completed his dental degree at The University of Toronto in 1999 before arriving in Barrie in 2002. After graduating, he continued to learn everything he could about dentistry. Now he has taken the time to share important information for anyone to read.

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