An t i - Ag i ng DENTISTRY MONTHLY NEWS
The Remarkable Advancements in Dentistry
In the more than three decades I have been a dentist, I have seen a lot of changes. Between technological improvements and changes in patient behaviors, dentistry has come a very long way. I would go so far to say that 80 percent of what I do today, I did not learn in dental school. It’s quite remarkable. From a technological perspective, when I graduated from dental school, my graduating class was one of the first to learn about porcelain veneers. At the time, there was also virtually no education on dental implants, which, by contrast, are very common today.
not nearly as effective or aesthetically pleasing as veneers.
Because dentures are often removable, people may choose to sleep with them out or only wear them when they eat. Neither of these situations is ideal; only wearing dentures part of the time can negatively influence the position of the jaw, causing additional problems. These problems are generally solved by veneers and more so by dental implants. Dental implants have become the go-to
option in replacing damaged or missing teeth. They maintain the integrity of the jaw and the beauty of the smile in a way dentures never could.
There was much greater emphasis on tooth restoration using metals, such as silver amalgam (which is made using mercury) and gold. The gold would often be placed under porcelain, which would offer greater strength and provide a closer match to tooth color. I stopped using silver fillings in 1998, and I eventually phased out metal fillings altogether. Instead, I only use porcelain, which is fabricated to be much stronger than it used to be. Porcelain can also be color-matched to your existing teeth to create a nearly seamless transition. In fact, today’s porcelain veneers, as well as dental implants, look so amazing when you smile that no one would know you had them unless you told them. That brings up another major difference between today and back then. In the past, when people lost teeth or wanted to restore cracked, chipped, or missing teeth, dentures and partials were the answer. Dentures, in particular, used to be very common.
From the patient perspective, I’ve noticed a few curiosities. When I graduated dental school, there was a higher number of patients losing their teeth to gum disease. Thanks to greater awareness and better oral care habits, this isn’t as common. What is more common, however, is the number of cavities. In my first decade practicing dentistry, the number of cavities I saw was going down. That changed about 15–20 years ago. Since then, there has been an uptick in the number of cavities people are experiencing. The reason for this, as I have shared in the past, is dry mouth. More people are taking medications with the common side effect of dry mouth. This is why I developed a mouthwash (as part of the Oral Essential line of products) to help combat this side effect. While it doesn’t deal with the root cause of dry mouth, it goes a long way toward preventing cavities. As with all technology, there are many more advancements to come in the field of dentistry. I always challenge myself to stay ahead of that curve, and I’m excited to see what the next generation of dental technology has in store for us all.
Today, thanks to the advancements in dental technology, much of the industry has moved away from dentures and partials. These options are
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