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Dental Procedure Prioritizing

So, it's probably not what you want to hear - but let's talk priorities.

Just like you might choose to spend time with your family over choosing an overtime shift at work for double pay (or vice-versa if the extra money will inevitably benefit your family!) or choosing a healthy salad over some unhealthy sugary treats, there are often some dental procedures which should take precedence over other dental procedures.

When you first come to our office, it's very likely that, if it's not an emergency, we'd do a Complete Oral Exam with you. Since we've never met you before - let alone work in your mouth - it's a good idea to have the dentist take a thorough approach to your oral health. But let's backtrack here for a second - because we've already established what should be addressed first - emergencies.

If you've gotten into an accident that has resulted in potentially injured teeth, go see the dentist asap. You never know when something might be more serious than it appears on the surface, so go have it looked at by a professional. The best case scenario is that everything checks out and you're fine (great!) - and then you'd have that peace of mind.

Another emergency situation is if you start getting inflammation, pain and swelling - these are often signals that you need to go see a dentist. As an example, this could be a sign of infection and if it is left untreated, the infection can spread.

It may seem obvious to you that - yes - you should see a dentist ASAP if you've broken a tooth and/or are experiencing pain and you may even be rolling your eyes - but you'd be surprised at how many people prefer to delay treatment. You'd be surprised at how many people choose to 'grin and bear it' until things intensify until they can't ignore it anymore. All we can say is, 'Don't be that guy!'

Emergencies aside, the report you receive after a Complete Oral Exam can help to outline the recommended treatments - which ones you'd ideally do first and which ones can be put off - or not done at all.

Yes, we are saying that there are 'elective' dental treatments - ones that you can benefit from but don't necessarily need. One big example - that's worth saying right off the bat - is dental whitening procedures! We understand that you want white, sparkly teeth - a Hollywood Smile, if you will - but if you have something like severe gum disease, you'd really need to address that first. To put it bluntly, if your gums are in such bad condition that your teeth will fall out shortly, it's not going to matter what colour they were before they came out.

Bring your foundations up to a healthier state first (that is, take care of the gum tissues and repair any caries) before you even think about cosmetic procedures like whitening - otherwise you can stand to lose much of what you invested in.

After taking care of the bare basics, look into the state of your wisdom teeth (if you have them). If they are erupting and aligning with existing teeth with sufficient jaw space - perfect. If they are not erupting at all - that's great too. No action may be needed in these two cases. However, if they're growing in at an angle, this can affect neighbouring teeth and depending on the situation, removal may be recommended.

So, as an example, let's say Jimmy's four wisdom teeth were impacted but he doesn't have them removed. If he goes ahead with braces and straightening his teeth for two years, it is possible that the wisdom teeth continue growing into the back molars. If this is the case, he may expect the back teeth to develop decay. Or, he may expect his perfectly aligned teeth to shift some more (and become crooked again) due to the pressure of the wisdom teeth growing in and pushing them out of alignment. Or, he may expect a combination of both - decay in the back teeth as well as a mis-aligned smile! In either case, it may have been prevented if only he took out the wisdom teeth before they did any damage. While it's possible to have the decay filled and a second round of braces - who really wants to go through that? These issues could have been foreseen and the steps to try and prevent them from happening could have been implemented.

The next up on the hierarchy is probably more 'major' restorative work. If a tooth or several teeth were severely damaged or decayed, then you might think about getting it crowned instead of getting a filling. If you're missing a tooth or several teeth, it's a good idea to think about getting replacement(s) for them - implants, bridges and/or dentures may be options for you.

With malformed and/or missing teeth, your overall bite can be affected, so plan to have them restored when you can. And while on the topic of bite function, braces can also help to correct issues on this level.

All of these still take priority over whitening!

And, while these are certainly some of the more common procedures, this is not an extensive list! It's worth noting that since every person is different with a unique 'fingerprint' of a smile, your hierarchy of dental needs may indeed differ and you may even need different procedures altogether!

So, the only way you're going to find out is by seeing a dentist face-to-face. Go ahead and book your comprehensive examination today - use our contact form or give us a call at (416) 226-6688. We can help connect you to one of our dentists!


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