Comprehensive dentistry doesn’t just involve the mouth. It also involves the Temporomandibular joint, or jawbone, as well as the nervous system of the head. I’ve got some patients who come to me with migraines, and I only get this information from them because it’s important to me to ask all the questions when they fill out their medical history. For some patients, I’ve fixed their migraine problem. They no longer have migraines, and the reason for that is because the nerves that supply the mouth also supply the temporalis, or the head.
When these nerves don’t rest, because a patient, for instance, is grinding so aggressively, that nerves continue to fire. So upon waking, usually the patients will get very intense migraine pains shooting up the sides of their face. Really, often, it’s something as simple as fitting them for a night guard. You fit them for a night guard and all of the sudden, the migraines disappear. Comprehensive dentistry is looking at the bite, the way the teeth come together. It’s called occlusion. Occlusion is the way the teeth come together.
The way in which the teeth come together, there’s multiple different aspects of occlusion. You have functional and non-functional occlusion, and it’s a complex thing when you’re talking about how the bite or the position of the teeth relates to the temporomandibular joint.
It’s all interlinked, and it’s important to understand the link there. If you want to fix problems, like migraines or temporomandibular joint pain, or that sort of thing. It’s important to really be thorough with medical history, ask all the questions that might get you closer to potentially treating this patient comprehensively and thoroughly.
Comprehensive dentistry, it’s not just the teeth. It’s checking for oral cancer, making sure that you understand the link between the positioning of the teeth and the temporomandibular joint, and diagnosing everything that’s in the mouth at the same time. That includes the gums, the tissue, the cheeks, the lips, The palate, everything.
Cosmetic dentistry comes into all that at the end. Obviously, if a patient comes to me in pain, you want to treat the pain first. Then any sort of aesthetic concerns the patient has, always comes last. Cosmetic dentistry fits in there in the sense that, just the term “comprehensive” means that you’re really treating the patient wholly.
You’re seeing not only what sort of functional issues that may be going on, but any sort of pathology that the patient has in the mouth is really important to address first. Of course, like I said, sometimes patients won’t say it because they’re so embarrassed of their front teeth, the color, shape, whatever it is, often they won’t even mention it.
If you can win the patient over and get them to feel comfortable, often they’ll open up and start divulging more information with you to further treat them. When it comes to aesthetics, it’s part of being comprehensive.