How is Comprehensive Dentistry Good For Your Health?
In my lifetime dentistry has evolved from a narrow focus on teeth and gums to an awareness of how dental health connects to a patient’s total health and well-being. We know, for example, that several types of cardiovascular diseases may be related to oral health. And lifestyle choices like smoking and diet are linked to tooth decay and gum disease. In my practice, I promote a comprehensive approach to dentistry that addresses the overall health status of my patients.
Comprehensive dentistry focuses on preventive care. By providing thorough patient exams and one-on-one consultations, your dental team aims to diagnose problems early and develop conservative treatment plans that prevent those problems from recurring.
A comprehensive dental exam includes several different parts that provide information about your overall oral health:
1. Medical History
Most dental practices require a detailed health history to be on file for their patients. If you are looking forward to a new patient dental exam, you will be asked to complete that document before your exam. Information is requested about current or past medical conditions, medications currently taken, and joint replacements. This information is important to ensure that there are no systemic problems that will affect your dental treatments.
2. Dental Exam
Your dental team – hygienist, and dentist – will examine your overall oral health for any trouble areas:
- Cavities. X-rays might be taken to detect cavities between your teeth.
- Plaque and tartar. Plaque is a clear, sticky layer of bacteria which accumulates on your teeth and can harden and turn into tartar, causing oral diseases. Your brushing and flossing cannot remove tartar.
- Gums will be checked with a special tool that measures the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums. With healthy gums, those spaces are shallow. When people have gum disease, the spaces, or pockets, may become deeper.
- Careful examination of your tongue, throat, face, head, and neck to look for any signs of trouble – swelling, redness, or possible symptoms of cancer.
3. Treatment Plan
After gathering the above information, your dentist will create a comprehensive treatment plan with all of the dental work recommended. Sometimes this is as simple as getting a regular cleaning and providing instructions on how to maintain better oral hygiene. On the other hand, it can be as involved as full mouth restorations using dentures, crowns, bridges, root canals, implants, veneers, braces, and other dental treatments.
Your teeth do not function in isolation. If a new restoration is recommended to repair a tooth, or an extraction is an option, the impact of those treatments on the other teeth in your mouth should be explored. Treating “just one tooth” is often not in your best interest for long-term dental health. Comprehensive treatment plans often recommend a quadrant approach.
Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!
Dr. Nishan Halim
Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in adult and pediatric restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. Contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment and find out how his comprehensive approach is best for your situation.