The Changing Landscape of Dentistry

Changing Patient Population 

My current job is as clinical faculty at a dental school – I oversee mostly third and fourth year dental students as they learn to diagnose, treatment plan, and practice a variety of procedures on adult patients. The kinds of patients that these students see are quite complex with regards to medical history, oral health needs, and limited finances. Though we always teach to create an ideal treatment plan, patients often are unable to afford even the decreased fees. A lot of patients admit to neglecting their teeth due to kids, work, family issues, lack of time, lack of finances, lack of dental knowledge, or they only utilize emergency care by choice on an as needed basis. The preventive aspect of dental and oral health is something that is often neglected, ignored, or is not that important within the scope of peoples’ lives and they often end up at an institution like ours as a result. (more…)


What does a cavity/filling look like?

What does a cavity/filling look like?

Cavities can form on any surface of a tooth. They are most common in the nooks and crannies of the biting surface and between teeth (where floss is rarely seen…). The areas between and below your teeth need to be evaluated with an x-ray so we take radiographs every year to every few years (depending on your risk of getting cavities) to make sure that you don’t have cavities starting between your teeth, under existing fillings, or any infections brewing at the root.

This photo shows you what a cavity looks like when the tooth is first accessed, the cavity cleaned out, and then the final filling in composite (tooth-colored filling) which is color matched to the existing tooth color. Unfortunately if the fillings aren’t kept very clean (yes, flossing comes into play…) chances of getting a cavity are higher since filling margins tend to attract and hold plaque and bacteria.

The green stretchy material you see around the teeth is called a rubber dam. It holds the oral fluids away from the materials used for the filling to ensure that there is limited moisture contamination when placing the filling. Not everybody uses them but I like to keep the materials I’m using from being ingested by my patients, a stronger filling, and less chance of leakage between the filling and tooth structure.