By Dr. Rick Seume
Life in general can become pretty mundane. We tend to do the same things every year at about the same time. As a dentist, our office is subject to the same rut.
This past February we celebrated dental health month by going to talk to all the school kids.
We taught the “Rule of Twos” to the kids to help them learn how to take care of their teeth. We dressed up “funny” (although I still looked normal) and put on a skit complete with the “Cavity Critter” herself. The skit taught kids to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes and to go see their dentist twice a year. We also talked a bit about flossing and tooth paste, as well as foods that are good for their teeth and foods that aren’t. We covered pre-K through third grade and were well received.
This year it occurred to me that perhaps the adults needed some dental education. Although we would love to dress up and visit your place of work to give a presentation, it just is not practical with the vast number of employers in the area. Instead of a personal visit, we put together the “Rule of Toos” for our adult patients.
The first rule is pretty simple — your teeth are too important to lose. This rule is hard to teach in present tense but very easy in hind sight. I have spoken with many patients that have elected to extract or remove teeth, sometimes all of them!
Universally, other than the relief of pain caused by the tooth, patients lament the loss of their teeth. Now it is true that some patients miss their teeth more than others. I had a patient refuse to have a tooth extracted that I could not save. He equated having a tooth removed to an amputation!
The second rule is dental work is not too expensive. This rule is often not appreciated until the patient learns first hand about rule number one. Let’s look at the expense of dental work from a return on investment stand point. No matter how much you have to spend on your teeth, you are going to get your moneys worth. You are going to use them to smile, chew, talk, attract a prospective mate or impress a potential customer or boss.
The long story short, you are going to use your teeth all day long, every single day, whether or not you get out of bed! There is no other purchase you make that you will use more than your teeth. No boat (I’d like to use mine more), car, TV, game station or computer will a person use more than their teeth.
The third rule is it’s never too late to do something. This rule gives hope to even the most distraught dental patient. If it has been 10 years since your last cleaning, or if you have lost all your teeth long ago and are struggling with a denture, dentistry has some thing for you.
The advances in dentistry even allow us to replace a missing tooth or teeth. The best way to replace a missing tooth is with a dental implant. Dental implants offer patients several unique benefits when replacing a missing tooth.
First, a dental implant replaces not only the crown of the missing tooth but the root as well. When you lose a tooth the bone that was around the root no longer has a use and is reabsorbed by your body. By placing a dental implant in the extraction site, you can preserve the bone by giving it a reason to be there.
Second, a dental implant allows us to replace a tooth without leaning on or borrowing strength from adjacent teeth.
This can improve the survival of the adjacent teeth dramatically. Even a denture can be stabilized or eliminated with dental implants! Placing two dental implants under a patient’s lower denture can be a life saver for some patients.
The last rule is you cannot be too comfortable in your dental office. Being a dentist, I am often asked by people about whether or not they should change dentist. I always answer the question with a question of my own. “If your dentist told you today that you need a crown, would you get one?”
If the answer is yes then I tend to think the patient is at the right dentist. If the answer is no then I encourage the patient to switch dentist.
My rationale is pretty simple. If the patient is unsure whether to get the recommended treatment, then that is not helping the patient or the dentist. Trust in your dentist and the office is imperative in insuring you have a healthy mouth.