Variety enlivens life. Our daily commute into Llano is less than two miles and I have about seven routes to work that I pick at random. I like to change things up. Plus, you never know when you might be followed.
General dentistry is full of variety. Every patient presents with a different set of teeth, health problems, desires, and expectations. The “right” treatment for one patient may not fit the next patient. Every mouth is a puzzle. Variety is the name of the game.
Dental specialists do not get to experience the same assortment of treatments. A root canal doctor does root canals all day, every day. I enjoy the occasional root canal as much as the next guy, but I also like to mix in other treatments throughout the day. It makes life more interesting.
General dentists are taught, qualified, tested, and certified to treat a spectrum of dental and facial problems. The backbone of what we do will probably always be the basics; preventative cleanings, treating gum disease, and restoring broken and decayed teeth. Fillings, crowns, simple extractions, root canals, partials, and dentures are all of the routine treatments that most general dentists provide.
One exciting aspect of dentistry is that you can expand your knowledge and guide your practice into treating all kinds of different, more complex problems. Not every patient wants or needs dental implants, but it is a nice service to be able to provide for patients when they do. There are many ways that general dentists can help their patients besides “routine” care.
Orthodontics– Dentofacial orthopedics (growing pretty jaws and pretty teeth that fit in harmony) is one of the more rewarding treatments dentists provide. Braces may not be the most exciting thing in the world while they are on, but that pretty smile can provide a lifetime of great pictures and memorable moments.
TMD (sometimes mislabeled as TMJ)– Curing or reducing someone’s jaw problems, pains, or headaches is one of the most rewarding things that dentists do. Few patients thank us for a beautiful, perfect filling on their upper right back molar. If we get rid of chronic pain, we often get fresh baked cookies and a lifetime of thanks.
Sleep Apnea– The incidence and risks of sleep apnea are scary. Many patients have a hard time tolerating a CPAP machine (imagine sleeping in a fighter pilot mask every night). Dentists can make a dental appliance that treats mild to moderate sleep apnea and gets similar results.
Dental Implants - One way to become really popular is to allow someone to resume eating their favorite foods. Helping them to smile or talk with confidence...ditto. Dental implants can replace teeth or sets of teeth with something that looks and feels natural. Dental implants give people their teeth back.
This is but a sample of the ways that your dentist can help you. Variety is part of the profession.
Until next week, keep smiling.
Please send questions and comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.