COSMETIC DENTISTRY VS. AESTHETIC DENTISTRY
DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?
WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Are you tired of being embarrassed by your smile?
Are you discouraged with teeth that keep falling apart, no matter what you do?
If so, the first thing you need to know is that you’re not alone. Over 90% of all dental work is bound to fail. From fillings to crowns, and from dentures to implants, almost all dental work never reaches its maximum potential because it is incomplete. Having been done on an “as needed” basis without the benefit of a comprehensive whole mouth “blue print”, optimal beauty, function and longevity are never achieved. In other words, it either doesn’t look good, doesn’t feel good, or it doesn’t last. In this report I am going to show you how to break the downward spiral.
How To Get The Smile You’ve
Always Wanted Through A Simple
Shift In Focus I call
Comprehensive Minimal Dentistry
The typical story goes something like this. First your tooth gets a cavity so you have a filling placed. Then your tooth breaks and you get a crown. But later it develops a gum infection which means you have to have a “deep” cleaning done. And in spite of all that, you end up with an abscess that you have treated with a root canal. Now you have another abscess and you just want the tooth pulled. Besides, you never liked the look of that crown anyway.
Or maybe your story is more like this. You used to have beautiful teeth; your parents even put you through braces. But now they’re falling apart, some of the crookedness has returned, and you just want to look like you used to. You’re also pretty sure those teeth are making you sick, and may even be even causing some of those headaches you keep having. So why not just get rid of them? That’s an excellent question.
How to stop the downward spiral
And turn your dental health around
If that was the way it had to be, I think I would have them pulled too. After all, who wants to keep throwing good money after bad? But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. You see, most dental work is done on an “as needed” basis. And on the surface, that seems like a reasonable approach. The problem is that it almost always ends up looking like the homes some of my neighbors live in. They start off with a piece of property they inherited, or got cheap. Heck, all you need is one of those mobile homes right? Sure. But the snow can get pretty heavy here in north Idaho, so they build a secondary roof for added protection. Good idea, except that momma’s having twins so they add on a bedroom. Later on the twins are fighting too much and it’s time they each had their own room. Only why not let one of them move in to mom and dad’s room and add on a new “master suite” for the parents? Right? And on it goes. The house keeps growing until one day they are invited over to some new friend’s house, and wow! It doesn’t have any more rooms than theirs does, and the square footage is just about the same. But it’s beautiful! Nothing like their old fire trap. What’s the difference? Planning. Planning makes all the difference, and planning is what Comprehensive Minimal Dentistry is all about. It is Comprehensive vs. Limited, Aesthetic vs. Cosmetic, Future Focused vs. Immediate Focused, Proactive vs. Reactive, Planned vs. Random, and Wanted vs. Needed.
“Cosmetics” are the things ladies buy at the drug store to cover up other things they don’t want anyone to see. “Aesthetics”, on the other hand, is the art of creating beauty. If you begin with the end in mind, the end can be beautiful, comfortable, functional, and sturdy; for real without any cover up. Unless you have a plan though, who knows what will happen? Certainly not your dentist. But with a plan, anything is possible.
And which do you think is the least expensive approach, one-tooth-at-a-time wait-till-its-broke limited reaction or begin-with-the-end-in-mind catch-it-while-its-small proaction? Obviously “an ounce of prevention is worth” many pounds “of cure”. What would you rather do, plan to spend $5,000 in a controlled affordable manner now, or spend $1,000 a year in as-needed fixes for the next ten years? The catch? You’ve got to think ahead. Just like saving for your retirement or healthy eating and exercising for lasting health, a little foresight can yield huge benefits down the road.
So what all is involved in Comprehensive Minimal Dentistry (CMD)?
CMD is “comprehensive” because it takes into account not only what you need today, but also what you might need or want in the future. It is “minimal” because the idea is to do the least amount of dental work possible to achieve your goals. If you don’t want whiter teeth, then don’t let anyone talk you into it. If you are happy with your chewing ability, then don’t buy any “improvements”. On the other hand, no one likes to have their teeth drilled on, so why not keep it to a minimum by using the longest lasting materials and preventive techniques we can find? In other words, don’t have anything done that you don’t want. But what you do choose to have done, make sure it is done to last!
In a comprehensive approach, you will need to define what you want in terms of comfort, function, beauty, and health. To achieve your goals in these four areas, there are four critical aspects of dental treatment that your dentist will need to address. You will obviously need to have strong good looking teeth. You will need infection free healthy gums. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss, and is also a common contributor to heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues. You will need a well balanced bite. Teeth that receive excessive stress, either when biting straight down or when the jaw is moved around, are a major cause of worn or broken teeth, broken restorations, loose teeth, jaw joint pain, and headaches. Finally, you need to have a strong healthy immune system. Health is a total body issue. A weak and out of balance body can lead to an increased susceptibility to gum infection, decay, stress, and trauma.
If your teeth are strong and look like you want them to, if your gums are disease free, if your bite is well balanced, and if you are otherwise healthy, you can count on them giving you a life time of service. On the other hand, if any one of these factors is out of whack, all bets are off. So this is what we mean by Comprehensive. And again, by Minimal we mean – do the least amount of treatment necessary to accomplish your goals. If you don’t want your teeth whiter, they shouldn’t be whitened. If a tooth only needs a filling, don’t put a crown on it. If a tooth needs to be fixed, do it comprehensively so it doesn’t have to be redone later. And of course, doing as much preventive work as possible is always less invasive than doing repairs down the road.
So how do you know if CMD is appropriate for you? Basically, if you know that the dental care you have (or have not) been receiving is not getting you want, then a comprehensive approach is what you need. If you have any missing or broken teeth and want to reverse that situation, only comprehensive dentistry will fix that and keep it from happening again. If you want to make any major aesthetic changes in your smile, you should have it done comprehensively. If you are dedicated to total health and prevention, comprehensive dental care must be apart of your total strategy. On the other hand, if you are happy with your teeth and your current dental care, then by all means don’t change a thing. In a nutshell, if you are ready for a change, if you need more choices, then CMD is going to be your best bet.
What CMD Is Not
Please understand, CMD is not a one-size-fits-all approach to dental care. For any particular issue you may have, there will be a number of options to choose from. Some will be very basic while others may be extremely elegant. Only you can decide what is most appropriate for your goals and circumstances. In fact, this will be a major clue as whether your dentist is taking a comprehensive or a limited approach. Are you presented with choices?
What CMD Is
Which then brings up the question, what does a comprehensive dentist actually do? How is a person to know whether his or her dentist is practicing CMD? Well, your first clue will be in the examination. Although it will likely take more than one appointment to accomplish, a comprehensive examination and treatment plan (“blue print”) will need to include all or most of the following.
- INTERVIEW – you should feel like the doctor has taken the time to really get to know you and your desires.
- DENTAL (TOOTH) EXAMINATION – in addition to looking for decay, excessive wear, cracks, looseness, and weak areas should also be noted. High powered loupes or even a microscope are essential to do a thorough evaluation.
- BITE & ALIGNMENT – it is extremely important to observe how the teeth come together when the jaw joints are centered as well as any teeth that are subject to undue trauma when the lower jaw moves around.
- JAW JOINT – are there any unhealthy noises in the jaw joint (TMJ)? Are any of the chewing muscles sore or sensitive?
- SOFT TISSUES – did he palpate and look for oral cancer and other abnormalities?
- GUMS – health of the gum tissue, including pocket depth and bleeding areas, need to be noted.
- X-RAYS – full pictures of all your teeth will be needed. Panoramic views, or even a dental CAT Scan, may also be indicated.
- MODELS – if you are contemplating any significant changes, study models will be needed to properly design your restorations.
- PHOTOGRAPHS – detailed photographs of your teeth and face are also valuable to assure all of your aesthetic concerns are met.
- SYSTEMIC HEALTH – A thorough review of you medical health history is also very, very important. There is an old saying, “The mouth is the window to the body”, which is very true. If something is wrong in the body, it will often be reflected in the mouth. And visa versa. If something is wrong in the mouth, it is commonly reflected in the body. Therefore, if your body is sick, it could be affecting your mouth as well. Not only that, but as people work on getting their mouths healthy, they often find that their bodies begin to feel better too.
- TREATMENT PLAN – In our office we call this a co-treatment plan to emphasize the importance of your, the patient’s, involvement. It is your mouth and your body. And it should be your plan. Our role is to educate you about your current condition and future options, and then to execute whatever plan you choose. You’re the boss. But it all starts with a super detailed comprehensive evaluation. Minimal treatment begins with a maximal examination. Any less than this, and something is likely to be missed that could dramatically affect your desired outcome.
If your past dental examinations have consisted of a quick check and three or four x-rays, a truly comprehensive evaluation may seem a bit intimidating. You may be tempted to think “I can’t afford all this!” But remember, most comprehensive plans can be done in phases, and the financial options we talked about earlier really do work. No matter how bad off your mouth is, you can decide to turn it around. But without the plan, it will never happen.
Another way you as a patient can recognize whether you are receiving comprehensive care is in the amount of work that is done before your final crowns or other restorations are completed. Any restorative dental plan that includes a change or improvement of your current situation needs to first be carefully designed and then tested before the actual gold or porcelain work is done. This design work is most commonly done with wax on models of your teeth. Then it is actually tested in your own mouth with provisional resin or acrylic splints and restorations. At this point any desired modifications can be done. And then, and only then, is the “real” work completed. In this way each tooth is “fixed” a minimum of three times before the final approval is given. First the wax, then the plastic, and finally the porcelain.
Without this “design and test” process, it is impossible to know what the new tooth or teeth are going to look like, let alone how they’re it’s going to feel and function. Now if you are just having some minor repair done without making any significant changes, you can probably get by without all this detail. On the other hand, if your repairs keep failing, there has to be a reason. And only the “design and test” process will discover that.
The Choice is All Yours
So what do you want? To chew comfortably? To smile confidently. To eat and sleep pain free? Whatever your goals, Comprehensive Minimal Dentistry is the most predictable and least expensive way to get there.