It’s never too late to improve your smile!

Many of the patients we see as new patients to our practice have had a lifetime of what I call “tooth-by-tooth” dentistry.  What I mean by this is since childhood, the dentistry performed has been “reactive” in nature…have a cavity, get a filling..break a tooth, get a crown. It’s the most common type of practice I know about, and yet this way may not be serving our population well in 2013.

What do I mean by this?

This style of dentistry began many years ago, when our life span was shorter, and tooth loss (and full dentures) was commonplace and expected. For example, in 1970, the average 70 year old male in Canada was…dead. And, also in 1970, the average 70 year old was missing many or all of their teeth.  These statistics have dramatically shifted in 2013, with the average male life expectancy at 79; as of 2004, only 27% of seniors over the age of 65 werecompletely missing teeth, which was a dramatic improvement.

Why are we living longer?

We have better medications, better medical procedures to fix the parts that aren’t working so well.  We know about healthy living, and we understand that prevention is the key to long life! If we are living longer, and expecting to keep our teeth, too, we have to start treating our mouths just as differently as we are treating our bodies.  This means prevention, early diagnosis of dental problems, and more sophisticated treatment.

When I meet a new patient of any age, I examine the teeth using digital dental xrays, special glasses with magnifiers, and digital photography.  This enables me to see quite clearly the current state of their dental health.  And then I explain what I see, and try to figure out how it got that way, good or bad.  If things look great and healthy (at any age), I commend the patient on good home care and good genetics.  If there is trouble, I show what I see and try to figure out how it got that way.  I can fix almost anything, but it would be silly not to prevent dental problems from recurring.

The most important time in our lives to have good dental health with good, strong teeth is during our “senior years.” This way, we can best enjoy good nutrition with a wide variety of healthy foods.  Missing teeth, weakened teeth, broken teeth…all of these serve to prevent us from properly chewing our food, pain-free. When I speak of “improving your smile” it doesn’t necessarily mean making it prettier…although with the metal-free dentistry we do, the nicer look is a benefit. What is most important is making the teeth stronger, taking into account all of the factors that made them weak in the first place.

Sometimes this strengthening comes at a high price…even the cost of buying a new car!

What I tell patients is that they will often have that new car 5 years (on average), but the benefit of fixing teeth properly and comprehensively can last a lifetime.  So please…if your dentist can show you what is happening in your mouth, and tell you what they will expect to happen in the future without further treatment…understand your dentist does have your best interests at heart, especially in later years.  Don’t let age frighten you away from treatment…the photos in this blog post are that of a wonderful 80 year old man in my practice who made the change he did out of necessity (due to decay), but was thrilled with the resulting appearance of the work completed, and of how strong and healthy his smile feels.