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Straight Teeth Talk: Modern dentistry changes patients’ options for healthy smile

By By Mac Lee
Feb. 4, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 3, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.

After treatment

Infections in other parts of the body usually cause pain, discomfort and concern. Not so in the mouth. Pain usually doesn't occur until the late stage of decay and gum disease, and when it does, it hits hard, fast and unexpected.

Modern dentistry changed this person's life. He went from having a serious infected mouth to an infection-free, beautiful smile. And he never went without nice looking teeth.

An example: Before treatment, this one patient had tooth decay and gum and bone disease. His lower front four teeth had nothing holding them in but tissue. They moved when touched. His gum tissue was red, swollen and infected but there was no pain. Because there was no pain, there was no action for treatment, and everything just got worse.

Medical condition

Because gum and bone disease spread infection to other parts of the body, this condition can be considered a severe medical problem - one that only a dentist can treat. Giving these patients antibiotics would be like pouring a bucket of water on a forest fire.

Being a diabetic, this patient knew his life was in danger and wisely sought help to learn all the options available.

Dental options

Severely infected teeth need to be removed. Once a certain stage of tooth infection is reached, the body starts rejecting them just like it would a dirty thorn or splinter.

Option one for most dental problems is to do nothing, but nothing was not an option from a medical/diabetes perspective.

Since the invention of electricity and the blender, humans, unlike animals, don't need teeth to live. Option two is to take out all the bad teeth, leaving the good ones and not replace the missing teeth. This would have left huge gaps in the teeth, but at least it would be healthy. Being toothless was not an option for this person.

Option three is to go for function and the natural look and replace the missing teeth with upper dentures and six porcelain crowns and a partial on the lower. The six crowns act as stabilizers for the lower partial

Dental reality

Dentistry is something people tend to put off for reasons of time, money, fear and trust. Modern dentistry is nothing like it was in the past. Yes, comprehensive dentistry is very expensive, and so-called dental insurance is not going to help with procedures this complicated.

If fear is the problem, sedation dentistry works great. If time is a problem, you can always find a dentist that will accommodate in some fashion.

Trusting your dentist or physician is critical for a positive outcome. With some research, they can be found, and it is certainly worth the effort.

The bottom line is that with today's modern technology just about anything can be done to restore a mouth to a beautiful, healthy, functional state.

If you or your loved ones are concerned they may have dental problems, pick up the phone and get help.

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

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