Tag Archives: top dentist in Nashua

Commandment #4–Do it Once; Do it the Right Way–the First Time.

measure_twice_cut_once_mugIn carpentry, the first rule every beginner is taught is:  MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE! Similarly, dentistry requires the same attention to detail. If one follows my preceding three dental “Commandments“, the prognosis for their teeth can be pretty solid long-term.

For most dental patients, I recommend that they have needed dental work accomplished in as few steps as possible–Do it once; do it the right way the first time in order to avoid multiple procedures. For example, if a tooth needs a crown (Commandment #3), then I may be able to patch it with a filling, but will have to treat the tooth again in the future to protect it with a crown. Treating a tooth twice means twice the risk of injury to the nerve in the root canal of the tooth–since every time a tooth is damaged, infected or restored (“filled”), the nerve inside the tooth is injured/inflamed and must heal. That can happen only so many times before the tooth is irreparably damaged and gives up the ghost–leading to extraction.

 

Restorative Patch Therapy

Fig. 1 Check out the “new” roof. Sometimes the patch doesn’t “quite” match the original.

I advise my patients that the amount of dental care they need will be directly proportional to the amount of dental work they needed (or should have had…) while in their teenage years. Every 20 years or so, they will need to have the dental work updated or replaced–just like those “20-year” shingles on a roof. Now, I can hear all the nay-sayers out there saying, “Ha! Well my dentist did a great job–my fillings have been there for almost 30 years.” To that, I say, “Please refer back to previously discussed  Commandment #1 and Commandment #2, because nothing lasts forever and to maximize long-term predictability of dental care, one must be preemptive in its maintenance.

Figure 2--Preliminary photos (2006)

Figure 2–Before photos (2006)

 

Though the patched roof in Fig. 1 may not match or look as good as the original (it may be part of a long-term replacement plan by the owner), it should function well until the rest of the project can be completed.  For the patient in Fig. 2 and 3, I created a phased treatment plan so that all the procedures needed for his extreme dental makeover (and thus the expenses!) were accomplished over a 7 year period to permit numerous travel opportunities for him and his wife and necessary delays to allow for orthodontic therapy, sinus augmentation and implant healing time. The important part was that he completed his goals on HIS time schedule; got the cosmetic and functional result he desired and each tooth was only restored once!

Fig. 3 Smile complete (2012)

Fig. 3 Smile complete (2012)

 

The only time that a “phased” approach to care doesn’t make sense is when one or more teeth must be touched multiple times unnecessarily. It’s not a mandate, but merely advice to avoid increasing the risk of complications. Remember: Commandment #4 really means that the more times a tooth is touched, the more likely one is to lose the tooth! So, if you are in need of extensive dental care, ask your dentist if the option of a phased approach to care would be best for you. If your dentist cannot answer that question to your satisfaction, give my office a call and schedule a consultation appointment to discuss your needs–I’ll do  my best to provide sound advice.

Either way:  Do it once; do it the right way–the first time.

Until next time–Keep Smiling! Please check in again, or visit my website at:

Dr. Bobbitt’s Website

P.S. Don’t forget to “LIKE” us on Facebook—tell a friend, spread the word:

Dr. Bobbitt’s Facebook Page

Next time: Commandment #5–The “Apartment Building Theory”

 

Commandment #3–The 50% Rule

Snow covered bridge

Snow covered bridge in Jackson NH

Most of us learned in school that things expand and contract when exposed to changes in temperature. Bridge builders knew long ago that if they didn’t allow for it, a bridge would fall into the chasm when temperatures plummet in winter! Conversely, the bridge would buckle when exposed to the heat of summer. That’s why they have expansion joints–the familiar “cha-chunk, cha-chunk” when you drive your car on and off of a bridge.

Dentists have had to deal with this problem for years. Unfortunately, our patients don’t abide by the seasons! They expose their teeth to extremes of heat (coffee, soup, tea) and cold (ice cream, ice water, high-speed snow skiing!!) all the time. Have you ever been to a nice restaurant where the doting waiter offers you ice cream AND coffee for dessert?!?  (Pity your poor teeth with those old silver fillings!) In fact, after ice and popcorn kernels, the most common cause of tooth fracture in my office over the years comes after Thanksgiving–“But, Doc, I was only eating mashed potatoes when it broke!” Of course, they were homemade–full of chunky, “hot-spots” that caused excessive expansion that broke off an already weakened piece of tooth.

Even more insidious is the contraction to cold. When the metal filling contracts, a microscopic gap opens to allow for fluids, bacteria and sugars to enter. The scary part is that this “leakage” is the reason that silver fillings work in the first place! The leakage of fluids permits oxidation (“rust”) that “seals” the natural space between the tooth and the silver filling. The end result, however, is recurrent tooth decay that weakens the tooth and/or leads to infection of the root canal–which is why even small fillings don’t last forever.

I advise patients that my “cut-off” for determination whether a tooth should be crowned or “just have a filling” is my 50% Rule:

When the volume of the filling exceeds 50% of the available, remaining healthy tooth structure, the tooth should be restored with a crown to minimize the risk of cracking the tooth when heat, chewing or clenching forces are applied.

Accidents waiting to happen

These old silver amalgam fillings are accidents waiting to happen!

Of course, it is only a guideline. And, it doesn’t mean that treatment can’t be staged over time–it just increases the risk of fracture “while you wait.” I will usually offer my best “estimate of longevity” when a patient asks me, “How long can I wait?” But in my heart, I know my response should call to mind an age-old problem:

My crystal ball is broken, let’s use yours!  😉

If only life were that easy…

Until next time–Keep Smiling! Please check in again, or visit my website at:

Dr. Bobbitt’s Website

P.S. Don’t forget to “LIKE” us on Facebook—tell a friend, spread the word: Dr. Bobbitt’s Facebook Page .

Next time: Commandment #4–Do it once; do it the right way.