The misunderstood word called Health and what many people think and believe is only outside. These folks will go to the gym regularly and work out feverishly for hours. They will drink diet sodas, eat chicken instead of beef. All these sacrifices in the belief that Health will be obtained. We must look at this warped concept a bit closer.
Actually, what was presented in the first paragraph has truth to it. But IS NOT all inclusive. Here is where the problem lies. Education and Understanding are the keys to Life and truly enjoying all there is to enjoy about this life. Because without education and understanding… this Life is very difficult and filled with just pure confusion.
In the US especially, people are consumed with looking good. They go to many lengths just to give the appearance of Health. But, through the many years in private dental practice I have come to realize that many of these same people whom appear healthy, are everything but Healthy. During the oral examinations we perform, we see a myriad of non-healthy indicators such as dental tooth decay, missing teeth and the most common one… periodontal disease or gum disease. Did you know that periodontal disease or gum disease is the 2nd leading cause of heart disease and stroke? Only behind smoking. That’s quite powerful given that over 75% of the U.S. population has some form of gum disease.
Dental Tooth Decay: When a tooth gets sick or decayed it means it is not healthy. It is filled with bacteria which grows and eventually will reach the dental pulp and nerve tissues. When tooth decay is left untreated, many negative things happen. For example: the teeth become darkened with ugly stains, holes and become sensitive to both hot and cold. If this decay continues and reaches the nerve tissues, then it will progress to killing these sensitive tissues and pus is formed. You see, pus is a collection of dead cells with an increasing amount of debris being sweat out by these dying cells. When enough of this debris is formed, a swelling of the face can occur leading to pain. This pain comes in slowly and worsens as the days pass. Treatment is simpler at first with simple fillings but gets more complex as this deteriorating process continues with a need for root canal treatment and or eventual tooth removal called extraction.
Missing teeth and Extractions: The continuation of the process of dental decay leads to the removal of teeth or better known as extraction. Simply put, extraction is the final burial ceremony of advanced stages of dental disease. People have teeth removed for many reasons, but the most common is advanced dental disease like untreated cavities and gum disease. Trauma can also be a need to remove teeth or have teeth displaced after a fall or accident. There are four major problematic conditions associated with a missing tooth or teeth.
- Digestion is negatively impacted due to less teeth with which to chew your foods.
- The supporting bone structures will shrink or dissolve away due to the inactivity in the jaw when a tooth or teeth are removed.
- This changing bone structure also will change the shape of the face and make it appear aged.
- Complicates the replacement of the tooth or teeth. It will NEVER be as good as what was there originally.
As in our body structure, the skeleton provides the support for the skin. This process gives us our shapes and size. In the oral cavity, the jaw bone lends the underlying support for the skin of the face. When this structure is dissolved or being depleted, the face changes in size and dimensions. If the person losing a tooth waits long enough, this area of support becomes smaller and the direction of this wear is towards the inside portions of the mouth. This direction of wear becomes the single most visible reason people without teeth appear older with their face shriveled and deeper aging lines appear on their faces. See Diagram 1 & 2 below for a comparable of a face with normal anatomy and the same face without the bony support for the skin.
These two diagrams show the face of a mature woman that has lost all of her teeth. This appears to age her significantly and possibly appear much older than she really is. The corrected side shows a much improved facial contour and dimension using dentistry as the correcting medium.
Bone Loss and what it means to you…
In the world we live where appearance is paramount to just about everything and whether young or old… preventing bone loss is and should be viewed as an important part of the decision to lose or replace a tooth.
If and when bone loss occurs, if allowed to progress uncorrected, the effects of this bone loss are daunting to reverse. There are times when this process cannot be reasonably corrected. Those patients find themselves in a life altering situation with no way out. Their entire existence is and will be affected forever.
The Solutions presented over years to this problem…
Not every solution dentistry has presented to its patients has been the answer. Dentistry over the years has provided a varied response to these problems. But patients have accepted these as what was and is available. The most important aspect of this paper is for the importance of Prevention. If by education and understanding of these problems we can help prevent their occurrence… then dentistry has done its job of protecting the public by making the public aware and educated to not fall into this trap.
Everyone knows someone that wears dentures. Everyone has an aunt or uncle that uses their denture without any adhesive and or perceived problem. Well, the truth is no one is exempt from what the body is doing quietly and over prolonged time. The process of continual bone loss does not stop. It may slow down but it will never stop entirely. If we could secretly go and inspect the households of many denture wearers, what we may find will amuse and depress you all at once. For I have seen many of these patients walk in with boxes of partials and dentures they have had made over the years that no longer fit or never fit well. They may have a drawer filled that would look something like this. See diagram 3.
Dentistry has come a very long way in helping these folks. But, still our biggest hurdle is the patient’s reluctance to take the necessary steps in order to prevent and or correct these problems before they become impossible.
Implant Dentistry to the rescue…
The human mind is incredible and the advent of Implant Dentistry has innovatively created solutions that mimic what originally was present. Albeit with certain limitations and compromises… nothing is as good as what the original design was.
We are now able to take a patient with absolutely no teeth at all and transform them into a smiling, eating, speaking and comfortable machine once again. This concept is amazing and without a doubt re-integrates this person back into a healthier lifestyle and a healthier psychological person.
The one component of this problem I had not mentioned until now is the mental component. Missing teeth and dental disease has a huge mental downside. Much more pronounced on some people than on others, but nonetheless present. People will refrain from much of a social life when their ability to chew, smile and even speak has been compromised due to the lack of teeth. Add to this problem and added situation with pain and we have a true handicap of sorts. These people will not participate in family gatherings, photos, brunches or lunches or anything around the reality that their function has been impaired. These are people with a negatively impacted physiological aspect and outlook on life. Dentistry can help. Preventive dentistry is by far the most comprehensive way to avoid this and the consequences this brings.
Options available today to find out if you will be or are a statistic…
Oral genetic tests are available today to study and predict a person’s disease state and that person’s ability to deal with the bacteria and the inflammation caused by disease.
These tests are predictors. They also give us an inside look into what the body considers tolerable levels of disease and inflammation. They also advise us as to what is the best form of treatment and medications to aid this body in combatting these detrimental forces.
Come in…. ask us about an Oral DNA test.