A light bulb went off in my head several years ago. Every other patient I see my age, has spent their whole life in a dental chair with a continuum of treatments. This culminates with extractions, and if they want fixed or functional teeth, reconstruction using dental implants. Most of these people have tried really hard to take care of their mouths.
So, what’s the problem? Hygiene, diet, and genetics are players, but the light bulb says that part of it is not our fault. It’s dental technology, or the lack thereof. The dental technology to repair teeth a generation ago was very destructive to the tooth.
Little fillings-silver amalgam lead to bigger fillings, lead to fractures, lead to crowns, lead to dead teeth and root canals, lead to fractures and extractions, lead to bridges, and on and on. The first shovel full of the grave for many teeth was the initial silver amalgam.
Today, we have fluoridated water, sealants, and composite-tooth colored filling material. Better prevention and restorative techniques mean longer lasting teeth.
We can’t go back in time. The alternative to silver amalgam fillings would have been extractions. This was the philosophy of the generation before. If this were done, patients would be talking to me about implants for their dentures. Some do.
The bad news is many teeth that have had multiple treatments will wind up extracted. The good news is dental implants can give you a “do over”.