Growing up, I went to the dentist for a few reasons. First, I didn’t have a choice, my parents made me go. Second, my dad was a dentist, again no choice. Third, I wanted white teeth when I smiled and I didn’t want to have stinky breathe. Now that I’m a dentist, I have a completely different appreciation for regular dental visits. I have a greater appreciation for the complexity of my mouth and all that’s being accomplished during a regular old dental appointment. To give you a better understanding I’m going to list my priorities as a dentist when a patient comes to see me.
My priorities as a dentist are very closely intertwined, but if I had to put them in order of importance it would be this:
1. Making sure your mouth is free of any signs of oral cancer
2. Making sure your mouth is free from active infections
3. Maintaining the bone structure of your upper and lower jaws because this is the
foundation of everything
4. Making sure your gums are healthy
5. And finally……………. making sure your teeth are healthy
Wait, your teeth are last on my priority list????? What? Well, for me your actual teeth are the lowest on my priority list. Please don’t misunderstand, your teeth are still a HUGE priority, however they’re lower on the list because……….I know I can fix your teeth. Oral cancer, I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Infections need to be handled and treated appropriately so they don’t poorly affect your overall health. Having and maintaining as much jaw bone as possible is paramount. Your jaw bones are the foundation for everything to do with your mouth. They give you your facial structure, they hold your teeth in place. And, if you don’t have teeth, the more bone you have the better foundation you’ll have to rebuild your teeth, whether it’s with implants or dentures. Gum health directly relates to maintaining your bone. If your gums are unhealthy you are losing bone. And bone is everything! If you don’t have enough bone you can’t have teeth and you can’t rebuild teeth. Luckily, we have amazing ways to maintain and fix your teeth. And in the end, if you need to lose a tooth you have a variety of replacement options. So while most people equate the dentist with teeth and only teeth. It’s about so much more.