Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of patients who require extensive dental work to regain their dental health. These patients are missing several teeth, and many others are weakened by extensive fillings and decay. To address these problems, I recommend a comprehensive treatment plan that often pulls in the expertise of an endodontist, periodontist, orthodontist and oral surgeon. It is no small feat, and it can be invasive and cost prohibitive.
Traditionally, multi-tooth dentistry – or issues with several teeth, like the scenario above – has been addressed using bridges, which borrow strength from the surrounding teeth to fill a gap. However, this ties several teeth together and can create issues with the surrounding teeth. When this solution fails, the teeth are far more compromised than when we began, and the only remaining solution is a partial or denture.
For that reason, it is my goal to move patients towards single-tooth dentistry. When we begin addressing issues one tooth at a time, treatment becomes more predictable and also has a better long-term prognosis.
Below are three strategies to move patients towards single-tooth dentistry.
- Start early
Dental issues of this magnitude do not happen overnight. There is a steady decline of dental health that if caught earlier, could have been prevented. In order to achieve single-tooth dentistry, it’s important that we address issues early – before they impact the surrounding teeth.
My approach is to begin this work when a patient is in their 50s or 60s and their bone structure is still strong. Missing teeth can be supplemented with implants, and the surrounding teeth remain healthy and intact. If problems arise in the future, they can be addressed one tooth at a time with fillings and crowns, creating a much better prognosis for the patient’s remaining teeth.
- Have a plan in place
When addressing comprehensive dental issues, it’s important to work with a dentist who will create a step-by-step treatment plan that meets your needs.
Say, for example, that you need an implant but do not have the money. The best solution may be to have a bone graft done to hold a place for the implant. If you have the tooth removed and then wait to have the bone graft, the bone will shrink and an implant may no longer be possible.
Having a strong plan in place will buy you time and ensure that your oral condition does not decline. This allows you to address problems on a tooth-by-tooth basis.
- Consider the long-term goal
Your relationship with your teeth is a long-term one, perhaps the longest relationship you’ll ever be involved in. And in order to keep your teeth, it’s important to view your dental health as an investment and avoid the temptation to go with the quick fix.
If avoiding a partial or dentures is your goal, it’s important that you do everything in your power to keep your teeth. This may mean getting an implant instead of a bridge, though the bridge seems like an “easier” solution. If the bridge is not the best option for you, eventually you will need an implant. So, why not get the implant now and save yourself the hassle of more dental work?
Overall, addressing dental issues one tooth at a time creates the most sustainable outcomes for patients. Tooth enamel is the strongest part of your body, and keeping your natural teeth is in your best interest.
If you’re interested in how you can move towards single-tooth dentistry, call our office to set up a consultation. We’re happy to review your dental history and create a plan that will allow you to keep your teeth until you’re 100.