Most of us have come to expect change — prompted by technology, new ideas and changing perspective. Often times this change is met with some skepticism. However, when it comes to the world of dentistry, these new ways of seeing, doing, and thinking are not only improving the quality of care you receive, but also the patient experience itself.
Here are the three major ways that I see dentistry changing for the better:
1. New Thinking: Our greater understanding of the mouth-body connection has led to a more holistic approach to dental care.
2. New Approaches: There is a growing commitment to dental care that is up-to-date, yet more conservative and less invasive.
3. New Technology: Advances in digital technology have opened new ways of seeing and providing dental care.
Making connections for more holistic dental treatment
In dentistry, we understand the undeniable connection between oral health and overall health. For example, diabetes not only has the power to disrupt delicate systems throughout your body, but also has a strong two-way connection with the health of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. And other threats to those gums and bone have also been shown to increase the risk of heart problems, including stroke and heart attack.
What’s more, our very diet can determine the biological balance in our mouth, including pH levels and bacterial cultures. These unfavorable bacterial environments cannot only cause problems to your own teeth and gums, but can also be contagious to other people, especially babies. And these are just a few of the reasons why we can no longer look at teeth in isolation from the rest of the body.
Given this new research-based awareness of the mouth-body health connection, a more holistic approach to dentistry has developed. As we embrace this new way of thinking when evaluating dental problems, we are able to empower each individual’s own ability to achieve and maintain optimal oral health. We now see dentistry as a small, but well-integrated part of complete well-being that can be cultivated through self-awareness, prevention, and, teamwork.
Taking a conservative approach to treatment…without sacrificing quality
A more mindful approach to dentistry is also helping to prevent the risk of overtreatment. This way of practicing concentrates on two specific areas. The first is bacterial or biological issues, which include the prevention of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer.
The second part of this method is the exploration of stresses and forces on teeth. By careful evaluation of the relationship between teeth, muscles, and joints, we can create strategies for preventing wear on teeth while preserving healthy function.
When these two areas of focus are taken into consideration together, a dentist can create a clear and thoughtful plan that leads to a more conservative approach than previously thought possible. Plans customized in this way can achieve a number of goals that are particularly beneficial to patients, including:
• Achieving and/or maintaining pain-free function
• Keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful for a lifetime
• Longevity and stability of your teeth and restorations
A more thoughtful approach leads to better dental care
By intentionally focusing on the connection between oral and overall health, dentistry can offer patients even wider-reaching health benefits. Additionally, this more holistic philosophy just naturally encourages dental professionals to take a more conservative approach to treatment. Both actions put the patient right where they belong, at the center of care.