Is Your Doctor Reactive or Proactive?
What is it that most people want from their dentist?
Have you ever heard your dentist say, “We’re going to watch it”? This is usually stated after noting that a tooth has begun to get a cavity. I have never understood this comment. Never. What exactly are we going to watch happen?
Typically when a tooth is being “watched” at Origin Dental Wellness, it is NOT a cavity. Let’s explain the actual definition of a cavity first. A tooth has a hard outer shell made of enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Due to exposure to acids in the mouth, the enamel can break down over time. If the enamel shows evidence of breaking down, that is called an incipient lesion, meaning that nothing needs to be treated at that time. Incipient means that the lesion is beginning to develop. Beginning is the keyword here. Because if the lesion is only in the enamel, it can actually remineralize and not progress to a full cavity. This is great news!
The bad news is that if the lesion has grown through the enamel into the inner layer of the tooth, it has become an actual cavity. And cavities DO NOT remineralize. They only grow larger. And as they grow, they reach deeper and deeper into the tooth until they reach the nerve. The bacteria from the cavity will infect the nerve, and now a difficult decision has to be made whether or not to keep the tooth. These circumstances place the patient in the position of having to react quickly. This is not a comfortable position to be in. Especially when these decisions can be avoided by being proactive.
At Origin Dental Wellness, we recommend addressing cavities early, while they are small. No, we don’t treat enamel that is just beginning to break down. That can be remineralized, remember? But if the cavity is just barely into the second layer of the tooth, we recommend treating it immediately, when it only requires a small filling. If left untreated, the cavity will grow, requiring the treatment to change from a simple filling to a full-coverage crown. And then once it grows into the nerve, treatment can either be a root canal (which is often unsuccessful and not performed at Origin Dental Wellness) or an extraction.
Dental decay is an epidemic that can only be treated by a dentist. We always recommend the least invasive treatment possible. Being proactive and treating decay when it is small is the best decision to keep patients away from having to be reactive with unfortunate choices.