To Treat or Not To Treat

Most dental conditions start out as small problems that grow into larger issues that demand treatment. At what point should treatment be initiated? There is always the obvious cavity that requires filling or gum condition that requires attention. But what about the mouth condition that is border line, do you treat it?

One goal of the dental-patient interaction is education. Any area of concern is discussed with the patient so they can come on board to aid in their own health. This could incorporate diet advice to reduce the risk of a cavity growing, to improve or alter cleaning techniques to better access the areas of concern where a cavity is forming, or tools and products to try to protect the gums from advancing gum disease.

There are patients who are worried about what may develop so they are open to early intervention, fill the cavity now rather than wait and watch. This is fine, but the point to emphasize is that this is discussed between the dentist and patient and it is discussed and a mutually decided treatment is arranged.

Gum disease is more complicated because the ability to clean under the gums varies between patients. Most practitioners recommend more frequent cleanings but to try and control gum disease the home care/maintenance regimen is more critical. Sometimes gum surgery is the recommend treatment by the dentist or gum specialist. If the patient is not interested in the surgery then there could be a risk for continued deterioration of the gum health. Some patients want to hold off on surgery and try and stabilize their gum health with the idea that if there is deterioration, they can still elect to have surgery in the future.

The option to wait and watch is a very real alternative, but for success the patient must be part of the solution. If success is not achieved, then a more aggressive approach may be necessary, but it will be done with the knowledge that all avenues have been addressed.

All the best,

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