Should You Outlive Your Teeth or Should Your Teeth Outlive You?
Let’s start to answer that question by asking a few more.
Have your teeth moved? Have they worn down? Have you ever broken or fractured your teeth? Do you sometimes require dental work that’s more extensive than filling a cavity, like a root canal or crown?
These things shouldn’t happen under normal circumstances. Of course, if you deal with some kind of unexpected trauma, accident or illness, your teeth can be affected. There’s nothing you can do about that.
But these are unusual circumstances. Your teeth shouldn’t break or move from normal, everyday activity.
There’s a reason why dental records are used to identify people after they’ve passed. Teeth are that strong. They’re built to last. Which is why your teeth should outlive you.
Unfortunately, “should they” and “will they” are two very different questions, especially for those who continue to deal with moving, worn or broken teeth.
Everything we do at Tuttle Dental Care is designed to make sure our patients don’t outlive their teeth. That means we have to evaluate not just the teeth, but the gums, the roof and floor of the mouth, and the jaw. You might go to the dentist to fix a specific problem, but there could be a larger problem that’s causing pain or discomfort. We have to look at the whole system.
For example, we all have two temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that connect the jaw to the skull. A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is pain related to the bones and muscles in this area.
I’ll often see patterns of wear in a patient’s teeth that are a sign of grinding. The patient will say they don’t grind their teeth, but unless it’s a conscious habit, it’s probably happening while they sleep.
Teeth grinding is what’s called a parafunctional habit. That means you’re regularly using your teeth for something other than eating, drinking and speaking. Parafunctional habits such as clenching your teeth, biting your fingernails, chewing on a pen or pencil, or grinding your teeth can cause serious problems.
These habits can cause an imbalance in your bite, which can lead to pain in your mouth and even headaches. It’s kind of like getting a flat tire and driving on the donut for a long time instead of replacing it right away with the full tire. The car still functions, but you cause a lot of stress to the car. The same principle applies to your mouth.
In the case of teeth grinding, we might recommend a night guard that you wear while you sleep to keep your teeth from coming together. This could help you solve the specific issue you’re having while addressing the bigger problem.
Whether you come to us with a sore tooth, headaches, or a cosmetic concern, we take a comprehensive approach to dental care instead of dealing with one issue at a time. We make sure your bite is balanced. We make sure your joints are stable. We make sure your gums are healthy. We protect all your teeth, not just the one you think is giving you problems.
That’s because our goal is to make sure no patient outlives their teeth.
Remember, pain isn’t normal. Broken and moving teeth aren’t normal. Headaches aren’t normal. The sooner you address these issues, the longer your teeth will last. We can’t cure every headache, but some can be treated dentally.
Keep up with your regular appointments every six months, and schedule an exam and consultation if something doesn’t feel right. That’s what we’re here for. Let’s work together to make sure your teeth outlive you.
Our West Windsor Dental Location
330 Princeton Hightstown Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550