As we age, our teeth can undergo a lot of wear and tear. Tiny fractures creep into tooth enamel that can expand, weakening the tooth structure. When this occurs portions of a tooth can easily and without warning sheer off while you bite and grind your food or simply clench your teeth. Suddenly you have the need for urgent dental treatment.
On top of this, the pandemic was bad for many people’s teeth due to stress teeth grinding, delayed care, and tighter family budgets. Many patients have an increased risk of tooth fractures, sensitivity, dental decay, and gum inflammation. You may be a patient who delayed getting a dental crown or replacing an older one, and the tooth is now at greater risk of needing more extensive treatment.
Your sense of urgency is no small matter, and in our Boynton Beach dental practice, we try to see patients the same day they call in these circumstances. We do our best. But rather than wait for a tooth to fracture or become painful, it is always better to have recommended treatment before that crisis occurs.
If we work together, we can prevent or minimize problems.
A tooth that has been assessed to be vulnerable can usually be treated in time to limit the extent and cost of the treatment. A tooth that waits may need root canal therapy prior to a crown or become so damaged it cannot be saved. Coming in for twice-yearly dental checkups at six-month intervals is a good rule of thumb for catching problems before they worsen.
By doing the most important dentistry to save a tooth or teeth now, we can head off more dentistry later. This is why I discuss planning for “important treatment” with patients. We want to plan ahead to prevent dental emergencies, or urgencies, depending on your perspective. I say this because one person’s urgent need to repair their smile — when a tooth is cracked or an old filling or crown falls out — may be another person’s emergency, even if the tooth is not painful.
Oral health and smile improvements are often achievable in phases of treatment, but we prefer to do that as part of a long-term, comprehensive plan that moves you towards your preferred dental future. Planned dentistry is analogous to an engineering and architectural blueprint. Before you build a house or add a house extension, you need a blueprint that takes into consideration a lot of factors. Into a comprehensive dental treatment plan go a lot of thinking and expert judgment to make the entire treatment process as comfortable, efficient, successful, and affordable as possible.
It’s always important to treat dental decay and gum disease because they will spread if left untreated. It’s important to fill the space of a lost tooth with a traditional dental bridge or an implant to prevent your other teeth from drifting out of alignment. It’s important to strengthen a tooth that is cracked by having it restored with a dental crown or bonding. Sometimes important treatment is periodontal therapy to battle gum inflammation. Sometimes important treatment is a bite guard for nighttime wear to slow down wear and tear on teeth while sleep bruxing. Sometimes orthodontics is important to align teeth, so they won’t occlusally injure each other or jaw joints and muscles.
Most adults have a dental “surprise” at least once in their lifetime with the unexpected loss of a part of a tooth or acute pain in tooth roots. It happens easily when a filling is large, a restoration is old, decay goes untreated, or tiny hairline fractures have grown to larger fractures. There is no shame in having a dental emergency. But it’s so much nicer to go through life with as few dental emergencies as possible.
You can start planned dentistry at any time in your life, but you will run out of easy options if you wait too long. From this moment forward, it is best to have planned dentistry that takes care of your most urgent dental problems and any needed additional “important treatment” to prevent future problems. Then we can move on to cosmetic concerns and a plan of regular care to minimize the dentistry you need over your lifetime.
We want to help you, so contact Jamie J. Alexander, DDS today!
-Jamie J. Alexander, DDS – Your Boynton Beach, Florida Dentist