As the saying goes, some cannot see the forest beyond the trees. For dental providers, it is important that dentists see the body beyond the teeth. It has been well documented that there are multiple systemic conditions related to oral health, including cardiovascular health, diabetes, prenatal health, and localized or referred pain.
In addition, certain genetic or health conditions can be discerned from symptoms related to the teeth or gums. When approaching overall dental care, there is a certain sequence that your dentist will follow to treat conditions based on their priority.
Prior to addressing dental concerns, your dentist should begin with the systemic phase of treatment by obtaining a thorough medical history that includes past and current medical conditions, medications, and any allergies that may affect your ability to receive dental care.
After all systemic concerns are addressed, the next phase is the acute phase which involves treating any severe oral pain or infection. The priority during this phase is relieving the patient of pain and eliminating or reducing infections that could result in further oral or systemic concerns.
If periodontal disease is present, this is usually addressed prior to any dental treatment involving the teeth or dentition. The reason is that the periodontal structures that maintain the teeth create the foundation of teeth. The chronic loss of bone around the teeth may result in tooth loss, and therefore any dental treatment performed before this phase may have been in vain.
Following periodontal heath, the next stage is the disease control phase. This typically involves the treatment of tooth decay that, if left untreated, could turn into more significant treatment.
After all decay has been treated, the final restorative phase involves major restorations that may include crowns, implants, orthodontic work, and so on.
Finally, one of the most important phases is the recall phase. These are the routine visits consisting of dental cleanings and x-ray acquisition to make sure the previous care is under proper maintenance and to avoid further treatment. The frequency of these visits varies based on necessity but are typically three, four, or six-month intervals.
This is a typical standard followed by dentists. However, it is important to know that not all patients are the same and may require customization when dealing with dental concerns. It is always best to maintain good communication and a constant relationship with your dentist.