Hi everyone! Today I will talk about why we should be setting people up for a smile that lasts a lifetime rather than just fixing one more obvious issue at a time. There are a lot of quick fixes out there, we have attention span issues, and we live in this age of immediate gratification. We want to have our cake and eat it too – I mean, who doesn’t?
So, the way that attitude has played out in orthodontics is that orthodontists have set about trying to get their treatments done faster on average. Patients are gearing more and more towards treatment that just straightens the front teeth. One thing you will hear from me on social media or virtual exam is that I want every patient to be set-up with a smile that lasts a lifetime. If someone wants a limited “fix” then at least be informed that that’s not necessarily a situation that has the best opportunity to last a lifetime.
One of the main reasons I believe this is because of experiences I had in dental school. I learned and performed all types of dentistry. I did cavities, crowns, partial dentures, I even did an implant on a periodontal rotation, I got to take out teeth on the oral surgery rotations. It was a very broad range of procedures! What I saw with people who were losing their teeth was that it was usually, if not always, compounded with other health issues. As their teeth failed they were unable to eat fruits, vegetables, and meats properly so their diets started consisting of more processed foods that were just mushy and softer. Usually this meant their diets contained lots of refined sugars and cheaper carbohydrates so they could “gum it” and be able to swallow it. In turn, obesity, hypertension and diabetes were also prevalent in these cases because they were only eating these processed foods and skipping out on the harder to eat, yet nutritionally rich foods. There was one special case that I saw and that was a woman who was able to eat apples without her dentures in at all! She was very determined to get her nutrition but not everyone is able to do that.
The gist is that there is usually always a correlation between people’s diets, these other compounding factors and the state their teeth are in. Straight teeth are one piece of setting up a plan to prevent the breakdown of your teeth. There are many cases where teeth are crooked and wear down or have instability in the bone and the periodontist or oral surgeon thinks that if this person had only had some orthodontics, the tooth could have been saved. This is the case when the tooth doesn’t have any other factors – like a cavity or root canal or gum disease – that can be pointed to as the cause of loosing the tooth.
This is why I am passionate about the preventative effect orthodontics has on people’s lives. If you can get your teeth straight so you can floss easily, brush easily, eat the proper foods then you are set up so that you can maintain your health into your later years! I have seen 90 year olds with all of their own teeth and never needing dentures because they took such good care of them.
Do not give up on the belief that you can keep your teeth your entire life. It is possible to keep your teeth into your later years and never have to get dentures.
In summary, because of the experiences I had in dental school, instead of having a reactionary mindset to tooth pain or a certain problem and that being the only type of dental care you seek, we should all be working to be on the preventative side of tooth and health care. That is something that I desire for all patients – especially here at Cooper Orthodontics.