In today’s world of high tech, it is easy to lose sight of all the things that a modern dentist can do. Thirty years ago a ‘modern’ dentist did not have the equipment, techniques or materials that are now readily available. The number of services that can be performed in a dental office is so different today that most patients are totally unaware of the revolution in dental care.
Invisalign. Six Month Smiles. Porcelain Veneers. Porcelain Crowns. eMax Press. CAD/CAM. Laser Dentistry. Diode Laser. Erbium/Yag Laser. Carifree. Sedation Dentistry. Sleep Apnea. Dental Implants. Dental Bonding. Endodontic Microsurgery. Cosmetic Reconstruction. Zirconium Bridgework. Digital Radiography. Digital Photography. Velscope Oral Cancer Detection.
Suddenly it is cool to be a dentist. I am not joking. We can now offer our services painlessly. Local anesthesia works for the vast majority of our patients. One step up from local anesthetic is nitrous oxide. Nitrous, along with local anesthetic, can help provide a dental visit that is even more comfortable. And if the anxiety and fear reach levels that require a greater amount of medication, there is oral sedation. Fear of the dentist is lessening. This use to be a real problem for previous generations of dentists. But today, with these newer techniques such as minimally invasive dentistry (MID), we can approach problems without creating new ones.
For example, MID is a philosophy as much as it is a technique. Dentists use to be taught “extension for prevention.” This involved making fillings, usually amalgam (silver), that were bigger than actually necessary. This is why generations of people have large, ugly, silver filling in their mouths. These fillings, especially as they age, actually contribute to the cracking of teeth. Unfortunately, some teeth crack in such a way that they require a root canal or extraction. Today, we minimize the amount of tooth removed. With the use of certain types of lasers, a Hoya ConBio Erbium Yag in our office, we can remove the smallest amount of enamel, vaporize the decay and then restore the tooth with a material that actually bonds to the tooth. Placing a restoration in this manner does not weaken a tooth like the old amalgam fillings. The amount of tooth that needs to be involved is actually minimized. Commonly, we cannot see our own restorations because they blend so well into the tooth.
Six Month Smiles and Invisalign are two newer techniques that have also revolutionized the dental office. We can now move teeth rather rapidly, without being in braces for an extended amount of time. This is especially exciting for adults, who want the treatment to be faster and less expensive than traditional orthodontics. The popularity of these techniques over the past decade is testimony to their success. It is great to see a patient that has severely crowded teeth or large spaces come back at the end of treatment with a much improved smile. This is not only more aesthetic, but is better for the bite and the health of the teeth.
Sleep Apnea. Sleep is a complex phenomenon that, even today, is not fully understood. But if a patient has apnea, we know the results can be deadly. These are people that have restless sleep, daytime sleepiness, trouble breathing during sleep and may actually stop breathing. Today, much can be done for the apneic patient. Oral appliances, such as the Somnomed, can do an excellent job of opening the airway during sleep. The improvement in reducing the apnea can be dramatic. Oral appliances are not THE answer. As I began this paragraph, sleep is very complex and a CPAP, a CPAP + oral appliance or surgery may be necessary, depending upon the situation. But having your dentist ask about your sleep is not a stretch when you consider the fact that your dentist is looking at you airway at every visit! I am amazed at the number of patients that have said to me that they do not sleep with their spouses because of snoring, after I mention the blocked airway upon examination.
Our office just recently introduced Carifree. It is a quick test that takes 15 seconds. It analyzes the bioactivity of the cavity producing bacteria in the mouth. If a patient shows that they have a higher risk and have displayed a need for treatment (for example, multiple cavities or tooth breakdown) we can treat this ‘infection’ with a series of rinses over a three month period that will eliminate or greatly reduce the problem. This is a newer area of dentistry that is scientifically evidence-based and very exciting.
All-in-all, as I have written before, this is not your father’s dentistry!
Thanks for visiting! 🙂