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Straight Teeth Talk: The importance of a healthy mouth

By By Mac Lee
May 8, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.

Twenty-year-old gold crowns

One of my long-time patients informed me that my next article needed to be about him. When I asked why, he simply said that if people would do what he has done for the last 35 years, they would have the same healthy teeth that he did. He is very concerned about his overall health, and it has paid off for him dental wise.

Jon has been my patient since 1974 and was my dad's before that. As a child, he had minor decay and had old-style mercury/silver fillings.

These type of fillings tend to either break or break the teeth over time. When this happens, crowns can be used to cover and protect the teeth. Jon choose gold crowns because they are the most proven over time.

You can see his gold crowns that are more than 20 years old in the picture. I have also included a picture of the new porcelain crowns because not everyone wants gold showing in their mouth.

Jon is close to 70 years old and will never have problems with his teeth if he keeps doing what he has always done. He really feels good about how healthy his teeth are and just wanted to share with the reader how good he felt about doing what was necessary to have a long-term, healthy mouth.

Another patient mentioned how much she enjoys my Advocate articles, and I told her about Jon. She said she wanted her story told also. When I first saw her in 2009, she was in terrible shape.

Dental wise, she had advanced periodontal disease to such an extent, one could smell it (oh, yes, gum disease has a distinct odor). She lost four teeth because of poor bone.

Her dental infection was being spread all over her body and is contributing to her overall bad health. She was on blood pressure medication, was pre-diabetic, overweight and was on the course of being insulin-dependent.

She was a self proclaimed dental phobic, which is one of the reasons she got in such bad shape. Pain from a toothache forced her to seek treatment.

She called my office because she knew she needed to be sedated for any kind of dental work. Three years later, her missing teeth are all replaced, she has her gum disease totally under control, she has lost 50 pounds and is only taking one metformin for her pre-diabetes.

She still has dental fear to an extent, but she has certainly made great strides and is proud of herself for being so brave. She has a great chance of keeping her teeth for a lifetime, and yes, the bad breath is gone.

The bottom line is, dental health matters and is a very important part of overall health.

It is always best to start out like Jon did and do things right from the beginning. If he had really been vigilant as a child, he would not have had the fillings and if no fillings, probably no crowns.

If you do have problems, it only makes sense to get your oral health checked by someone you trust. Only a dentist can help you. Doctors, including Dr. Oz, really do not know anything about the diseases or conditions of the mouth.

It is vitally important to be disease free in the mouth, especially if you have diabetes, heart disease, pregnant, joint implants and or organ transplants.

Everyone's dental home care is a little different. Be sure you have a good hygiene coach to help you with your individual needs.

Dentistry is nothing like it was in the past. There is no reason to be uncomfortable or to be hurt. If one can have a baby and not feel it, certainly we can do the same in dentistry.

Dr. Mac Lee practices in Edna. He is a international speaker to dentists and is an advisor to Dr. Mehmet Oz. To learn more, visit drmaclee.com or call 361-782-7191

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