Oral Health Group
Feature

Oral Health through Life’s Stages

December 1, 2011
by Fay Goldstep, DDS, FACD, FADFE


What an exciting time it is to be dentist! What an important part we play in our patients’ lives! We are an essential component of their primary health care team. Many of our patients do not have a physician that they see on a regular basis, yet they visit us every nine, six, or even three months. What a privilege this is, and what a responsibility!

The oral structures that we “check” at these regular intervals are attached to individuals who have varying concerns, needs and risk factors as they journey through life. We are with them on this journey as they grow up, get married, have children, become employed and eventually retire. We hold a looking glass into their lives.

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On this journey that we take with our patients, we must be continually aware of the physical and social challenges that they face. Patients at life’s various stages contend with differing risks and treatment requirements. We must ask the right questions and listen carefully to their responses.

Mothers-to-be and new mothers must be counseled on preventing the transmission of caries infection. Toddlers must learn fun, easy home-care and the joy of visiting the dentist. Teenagers face the impact of unfamiliar hormones, and in many cases, orthodontic hardware. We must guide them through these obstacles. We see adults in a range of restorative and periodontal need, all of which must be addressed. With the passage of time come the additional challenges of restoration fatigue and breakdown, as well as changes in medical profiles.

Throughout our patients’ life journeys we are there at regular intervals, to assess and treat as the condition requires. We need the tools and techniques to be able to provide these services. The current issue of Oral Health provides some of these tools. The articles offer guidance for the long term view of our patients’ oral health. How can we detect and map out areas of demineralization and breakdown of dental tissue? How can we track the remineralization and repair of these surfaces? How can we use the new bioactive restorative materials to enhance healing of teeth as well as to reduce restorative failure? What are the preparation design changes that we need to implement for today’s composite resins? How can we control the ever-increasing challenge of dry mouth in our modern medication-overloaded world? How can we use fluorescence visualization to enhance our ability to detect dysplasias and other oral mucosal abnormalities during our patients’ regular head and neck exams?

When our patients choose to become part of our practices, a special bond is created. It evolves and strengthens with time. This relationship may last through the many milestones of the patient’s as well as the dentist’s life. It is the primary reason that we enjoy the demanding profession that we have selected. We are there with our patients through all of life’s stages, to encourage and promote their oral health. What a great profession this is! OH