Family dentistry is whole-life oral healthcare. A family practice provides care to patients of all ages. From infants to the elderly. Each stage of life has its particular dental issues. Family dentistry addresses all these chapters in the human story. This discussion first surveys the types of dental care provided by a family practice. It winds up with a look at the value offered to patients.
Oral health is inseparable from general health. We need to care for a baby’s oral health even before that first tooth erupts. Parents should wipe an infant’s gums at least twice a day with a clean, damp cloth. Especially after feedings. A “toothless” infant actually does have teeth, after all. They’re inside the gums, preparing for launch. It’s important to keep the gums healthy until they do.
This introduces a theme that runs throughout a discussion of family dentistry. Patient and parent education begins at the pediatric stage. As children mature, pediatric dentists help parents practice and teach lifetime self-care habits. Brushing, flossing, and regular checkups, for example.
As children grow and develop, baby teeth fall out and permanent teeth erupt in their places. A pediatric dentist monitors the alignment of a growing child’s teeth. This brings us to the second area of family dental practice.
The alignment and spacing of a growing child’s teeth have long-term consequences. Besides the obvious concerns for appearance, there are developmental issues, too. Misalignment can affect the development of the jaw, have negative effects on speech, and other undesired outcomes. A family dentistry practice brings orthodontics into the picture in a timely way. The pediatric-orthodontic team can spot potential issues early on. Identifying concerns promptly and planning treatments early is very advantageous. In any case, all children should have an orthodontic evaluation at around age 7.
The pre-teen and teen years are when most Americans get any orthodontic treatment they need. For many families, this can be a bit fraught. This is, after all, a time of dramatic change in a young person’s life. Crooked teeth can trigger self-consciousness – but so can the solution! Thankfully, a family dentistry practice provides more than orthodontic treatment. Again, patient and parent education offer the support and coping tools families need in this chapter of life.
Children and teens are not the only ones getting orthodontic treatment these days. More and more adults are making the decision to acquire the beautiful smile they always wanted. Adults share the youngsters’ self-consciousness about having hardware in their mouths. Thankfully, there are now technologies which make braces far less conspicuous than in the past. There are even alternatives to braces, such as aligner trays, which are both removable and nearly invisible.
Tooth alignment isn’t the only concern adults have for their appearance. Discolored, broken, and missing teeth all can erode an adult’s self-confidence and social ease. These concerns have real-world consequences. Studies show that career progress can be affected, for example. Cosmetic dentistry is not a nod to mere vanity.
Dental implants are a perfect example of this truth. Missing or broken teeth in adults can start a “chain-reaction” of oral health problems. A missing tooth invites its neighbors to shift position. Upper and lower teeth no longer mesh properly. As in the case of a broken tooth, chewing can be affected. None of these developments are positive in any way. Implants offer a fantastic solution, especially if done promptly. Cosmetic dentistry also offers solutions for teeth which are basically healthy but discolored. In-office whitening procedures are effective for some. If they’re not, veneers are.
Once into adulthood, a person’s dental care needs move into the domain of general dentistry. The goal is to keep a full set of healthy teeth and gums, for life. With proper self-care and regular checkups, an adult can maintain the best oral health that genes and lifestyle make possible. Even with the best of habits, though, an adult may need treatment from time to time.
TMD is a good example of a condition that’s almost beyond the reach of prevention. Temporomandibular Joint Disorders can, indeed, be caused by misalignment of upper and lower teeth. When these don’t mesh, the jaw must adapt. However, the stresses of life are a common cause that no amount of oral hygiene can prevent. Stressed people grind their teeth, especially at night. Sleep apnea, also a non-dental issue, is another factor. What the family dentistry practice can do, rather, is identify and respond to TMD. Patient education and mouth guards are first-line interventions. Some patients need a referral to the right medical specialists.
Life happens. Children and adults alike collide with hard objects, nasty microbes, and other unexpected assaults on their dental health. The family dental practice is ready and able to help.
Once again, patient and parent education plays a role. It’s not hard to know there’s a dental emergency when extreme pain doesn’t let the victim forget it. That, however, often means it’s late in the game. The word “emergency”, after all, comes from “emerge”. Patients and parents who know how to spot an emerging problem at an early stage have a leg up. Did you know that when a kid knocks a tooth out, it may be possible to re-plant it? Do you know what to do to help the dentist succeed at that? How to spot a developing infection before it develops into a terribly painful abscess?
Your Lake Worth family dentistry group is prepared to treat dental emergencies promptly and effectively. We build flexibility into our schedules. This is part of what a family dentistry practice does for patients.
FAMILY DENTISTRY AND YOU
At this point, many readers will have seen some real benefits in choosing a family dental practice. Benefits for young families and adult individuals alike. At root, a lot of the value of family dentistry is the team approach over time. We treat people, not mouths. Let’s spell it out.
Sound snarky? It’s true. The convenience is plain. For most dental needs there’s no need to go to different locations. Who isn’t pressed for time these days? For area residents, a single Lake Worth dental center meeting nearly all their needs is a treasure.
But there’s more to this than logistics.
For families, the shared experience of dentistry is of great value. When parents and children see the same providers, children learn by example. When, otherwise, would a child see Mommy in the dentist’s chair? What could be a better lesson for life? Dentist phobia, after all, is one of the chief reasons adults neglect their dental health. Family dentistry, being family, isn’t where dentist phobia grows.
The keeping of dental histories in a family practice is another asset. Patient records. The pediatric, general, emergency, and orthodontic files are all one. The value of this only increases as the relationship gets longer. The practice knows how you were, sees how you are, and foresees how you will be.
FAMILY DENTISTRY IN LAKE WORTH
The range of services offered by Anderson Dental Lake Worth makes us a dental home for area residents of all ages. We do what most people need doing. When needed, we bring in top specialists or refer patients to selected colleagues. And as you’ve seen, you don’t even have to be a family to benefit.