We will do whatever possible to give that tooth a chance to chew another day. Whatever the situation, that’s the first thought that crosses our minds when we meet a tooth in trouble. A patient may say, “but there’s hardly any tooth left!?” to which we’d answer, “YES! There IS some tooth left!”
Why do we try so hard to “save the teeth!?” Because we know that people want and need to eat, talk, laugh and smile. And nothing does a better job of helping us enjoy those things than beautiful, natural teeth.
Teeth are more important to us than we give them credit for. I know that, if asked, many people would rank eating very high the list of things that are important to their enjoyment of life. Mmmm… eating.
How about laughing? Talking?
· Fifty percent of people say that a smile is the most memorable feature when meeting a person.
· Twenty-five percent of people say it’s the first thing someone says.
· That’s 75% of people immediately looking at our mouths!
Imagine the effect not feeling comfortable smiling or communicating has on a person. It’s not an opinion, there are mountains of research and studies showing that the loss of our teeth has detrimental effects on our nutrition, self-esteem, happiness, overall health and quality of life in general.
Sometimes, I think of a tooth like a banana. Usually when you have a perfectly ripe banana, you peel it and find a perfectly delicious banana. Sometimes, when you open up what seems like a well-timed banana, you find that some of it has turned to mush! You get rid of that part and enjoy the rest. Once bananas start to get too ripe, you have to race to eat them! Every time you peel a banana with more brown on the peel, you’re hoping that you don’t just find a bunch of mush, that there’s something there worth saving. Which is exactly what we’re thinking when we begin working on a tooth where we can see the problem on the surface… “I hope there’s something here that we can save!”
The germs that cause cavities and periodontitis are contagious too! If one tooth (or more) is infected with a cavity, or the germs that cause periodontitis, they cause more problems for the rest of our teeth because all these harmful bacteria are living in our mouths in greater numbers. Kind of like…BANANAS! When they start to get too ripe, they make the whole bunch of bananas and any other produce around them, go bad too! This is why not only do we teach patients to fix problems early, but also to do it quickly. A new crown next to a tooth that has a cavity is not going to last as long as a new crown next to a healthy tooth.
“I’ll get it fixed when it starts to bother me” is a response we sometimes hear when informing a patient about a problem we have discovered during a dental checkup. We understand this phrase, we say the same thing to the HVAC guy when they tell us our furnace is 25 years old or the mechanic changing our oil that says we also need new filters, new transmission fluid, new flux capacitors, and whatever else.
We understand completely that, although patients love coming to our office, no one really looks forward to restorative dental care. Fixing cavities in the back of our mouths isn’t as enjoyable for patients as the treatments that patients really want, like Veneers,
Invisalign or replacing a long lost tooth! The difference is that our teeth can’t be replaced like an air conditioner or car. If we want to keep our teeth looking natural, feeling comfortable, and chewing our food, we need to fix problems when we find them. Waiting just leads to more money needed to fix the problems, more time at our office getting them fixed, the possibility of a toothache, and most importantly, an increased chance that that tooth won’t be with us our entire life.
Knowing all this, our dental team is trained to provide the best dental care available and coach our patients to do the best they can with their home care. We make sure our patients know that the most successful, and easiest way to keep our teeth is to brush and floss every day at home and repair problems early with restorations that last!
“Save the Teeth!”