Exciting change is happening in dentistry today. To coin a buzz word, it’s a paradigm shift. But it’s not new. Rather it is a renewed and refined appreciation of why prevention and early intervention is important!
In the early and middle years of the last century, decay was rampant and the profession had its hands full keeping up to the cavities. During the last 40 years, decay has been under control for the most part. (Curiously, it too is changing in presentation and risk factors.) The profession having controlled one disease turned its attention to managing gum disease. The emphasis was to control it and prevent it, but the underlying idea was mostly about keeping teeth. The mouth was in a manner, divorced or considered separate from the body.
Today, the thought is to keep the teeth, gums and mouth healthy to prevent impacting negatively on serious whole body diseases – perhaps even preventing some of them. Medical research in the last decade has discovered or correlated the link between the inflammation in the gums and several serious diseases of the body. A short list includes heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, arthritis and there is a possible impact on pregnant women and their developing babies. This list expands on a daily basis (http://tinyurl.com/64egm8).
Technologies are allowing us to conveniently screen for bacterial infections which are the root causes of both decay and gum disease. This evolving area of the profession allows dentistry to better tailor individual care and to target the preventive care. There are now several devices that are an aid in cavity detection and research is evolving saliva tests that detect many serious diseases like pancreatic cancer. Early diagnosis and intervention, as in all health care, permits more conservative treatment which may decrease risk factors, stop and reverse early disease, as well as diminish the effects of existing disease.
Follow us as we explore the evolution of dental care.