Do you find yourself gazing in the mirror thinking “mirror, mirror on the wall. Show me that perfect smile again”?
Many factors contribute to the loss of your teeth – some people are born without certain teeth, and some lose their teeth because of disease (cavities, also known as dental caries) and injury. Regular dental examinations, including an oral cancer screening, help prevent potential damaging dental disease. Routine periodontal cleanings and persistent oral hygiene at home also help you maintain a healthy smile.
Today, when the desire for a more natural looking smile is greater than ever, you can enhance the beauty of your smile by replacing stained, chipped, missing or worn teeth by a variety of methods. The art of dentistry is prosthodontics, a service in dentistry that restores the appearance of your smile and regains optimum function of your teeth.
Unfortunately, dental caries risk in the prosthodontic patient is high because of the general characteristics of this imperiled population: tooth loss, existing restorations, root exposure, age associated co-morbidities, and diminished skill in completing oral hygiene procedures. The research says reasons for increased dental caries activity around fixed dental prosthetics, like crowns and bridges, are attributed to plaque accumulation resulting in increased potential for decay, as well as difficult access for cleaning. It can be argued that the high level of dental caries activity reported of patients wearing removable dental prosthetics, for example partial dentures, may be related more to continuing poor oral hygiene than the direct effects of the prosthesis.
If you want to restore your smile, start by being an educated patient. Be actively involved in the doctor-patient covenant and become engaged in the discussions of dental disease control and treatment planning. Use oral health aids and subscribe to a regimen that promotes effective hygiene such as using a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, drinking fluoride tap water daily, and using dental floss, antibacterial mouth rinses, and xylitol gum/lozenges.
You can expect many satisfying years of service from your prosthodontic dental treatment when these preventative safeguards are used routinely.
The concepts and rules dictating the development of a pleasing smile were determined by dentists almost a century ago in order to make dentures appear more natural. If you are missing one or more teeth, consult a dentist. Depending on the number of missing teeth, the condition of the remaining teeth, motivation and desire, teeth may be replaced by implant-supported crowns/bridges, conventional fixed bridges, or removable partial dentures. Increase your self-esteem and dental health by restoring and maintaining a healthy smile.
“Show me that smile again!” it’s a universal sign of health and happiness. Successful management of your dental caries risk and dental hygiene will ultimately result in more enduring prosthodontic outcomes.
Editor’s Note: Azure L. Utley, DDS, MHA, FACP is a fellow for the American College of Prosthodontics. Article referenced from ACP website and a position paper entitled “Caries Risk Assessment and Management for the Prosthodontic Patient,” by Featherstone, Singh & Curtis.
By Lt. Col. Azure L. Utley, APG Dental Clinic