By: Dr. Daniel Kaszovitz DDS, FAGD
Imagine a freshly paved road. The surface is smooth, the color is uniform, and the drive is much easier. Well-maintained roads are also much safer.
Compare this to a road that is constantly being repaired. While all the big holes are filled with tar, after a while the filled holes make for an uneven surface that is not only unaesthetic, but can be dangerous. Unfortunately, too many local governments focus on the short-term solution of filling holes and neglect the long-term strategy of re-paving at one time.
That road with the filled potholes? That’s how most of the people come into my office. Most people go through life and every few years have an urgent need to see a dentist. They may need fillings, a root canal, an implant or a crown. Sometimes a certain tooth will just wear unevenly and need to be repaired. While a competent dentist can take care of these problems when they occur, after a few decades the patient is left with a mouth full of repaired “potholes.” Their teeth are uneven, they become worn, the colors are all a little different, and everything from chewing to smiling is problematic.
The solution is to treat the whole mouth, essentially paving the road. Rather than filling a “pothole,” all the teeth are treated with an eye to consistency and long-term health. The result — a beautiful, healthy, and fully functional set of teeth. Not to mention a great smile.
Unlike doing dental work piece-meal, a full mouth rehab requires the dentist to not only treat the individual tooth, but to take into consideration how it impacts the rest of the jaw — which then affects the patient’s whole face and smile. For example, if there are missing teeth, the remaining teeth will slowly drift into the empty spaces. When teeth have been worn down over the years, the same thing happens. One can individually treat the tooth in question, but it can result in a bite that is uneven (and can even be different shades of color.)
Many people over the years have worn most or all the enamel on their teeth. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, even denser than bone. Yet over decades of chewing, even enamel will get worn out. Once the enamel is gone, the underlying dentin is much softer and will erode much faster. This is the last layer before the nerve so it is essential to have the teeth protected before that happens. Porcelain or other modern materials like zirconia not only mimic the look of the enamel, but are even harder.
The length of your teeth is what establishes the height of your face. Over the years, as your teeth wear, your face gets shorter, and wrinkles get more pronounced. Many people no longer show any top teeth when they talk. A fully restored mouth may often include lengthening the teeth, allowing teeth to show again past the lip. Restoring the teeth to their original height can make for a more youthful, healthy smile. A side benefit is that as the face is restored to its proper length, the lines of the face are often smoothed out.
Look at yourself in the mirror. If you see a yellow circle on the edges or chewing surfaces of your tooth, you have already worn through your enamel. If you have done so on one tooth, it is likely that another tooth will also be in the same condition — even if you can’t yet see it yet.
Many people come in believing the worst, that their mouth is in terrible state. Often they say to me “I bet this is the worst case you have ever seen.” But it rarely is. With cutting edge equipment and techniques, there are many options available for almost every problem. There is no cookie-cutter solution for everyone. After a thorough exam, including digital x-rays and a functional and aesthetic analysis, we can offer a few different solutions and help you choose the one that suits your needs and desires.
One of the most gratifying feelings is hearing from a patient how the treatment has changed their lives. People have told me how they used to be embarrassed to smile because they weren’t happy with how they looked. Or worse yet, they were missing teeth. Now they go out more and they feel their personality has changed. They feel comfortable in a crowd again.
Ahh…there’s nothing like a newly paved road.