Since I first started practicing as a dentist in Omaha in 1979, there have been many advances in treating dental disease, which is something I am passionate about. But, my first priority then – and still now today – is to prevent dental issues to begin with. And when they can’t be prevented, I place my focus on working to find issues early, when they are small and take less time in the dental chair and less money out of your pocket to treat.
As defined by the American Dental Association, “Oral health is a functional, structural, aesthetic, physiologic, and psychosocial state of well-being and is essential to an individual’s general health and quality of life.”
Let’s break that down into what this definition means before I go into how I can help you achieve optimal oral health through prevention.
Functional & Structural
When something is functional, we’re talking about the way it works or operates. For example, when you have good oral health, you can chew all the healthy and delicious foods you love. Your teeth function well as chewing and tearing devices, without pain or discomfort, and help you access your nutritional needs for overall health.
In biology, structure relates to the construction and arrangement of tissues, parts, and organs. In dentistry, this means your teeth are arranged snugly in your gums and firmly rooted into your jawbone. It also means that your jaw joint and supporting muscles are balanced and functioning properly when you chew.
Aesthetic & Psychosocial
Having a beautiful smile is more than a Hollywood dream. It’s an integral part of your oral health and confidence levels and contributes to healthy self-esteem, which in turn has a direct impact on how you interact with those around you at work and in social settings. While many treatments may seem purely cosmetic in nature, crooked and uneven teeth have oral health consequences, including making it more difficult to clean your teeth and leaving you open to decay or damaging your teeth due to an uneven bite or mispositioned teeth.
Having the balance of normal limits is what allows us all to have unique smiles that are all a little different – because they fit within normal parameters. Much like your blood pressure has a healthy range, so does your oral health and the state of your smile.
Optimal Oral Health Through Prevention
Tooth decay – Sealants, fluoride treatments, regular hygiene appointments & checkups, and home care & nutritional education all help to protect your teeth from decay. Additionally, if your teeth are crooked or too tightly spaced, cleaning between them may be a problem. Straightening your teeth with Invisalign® can help prevent these issues while also making you feel more confident with your smile.
Gum disease – A personalized hygienist and dentist visit recall schedule combined with education where needed, helps you stay on top of your gum health. In between visits you can help with excellent homecare habits that include brushing twice a day and flossing daily. In addition to helping you keep your teeth for a lifetime, the added bonus of preventing gum disease is the fact that it is connected with systemic issues like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more.
Tooth damage – To prevent the tooth damage that can come from contact sports or grinding your teeth at night, we offer custom made mouthguards and nightguards, so you can feel confident that what you do while awake and asleep is keeping your teeth healthy and strong.
Tooth loss – Saving a tooth rather than extracting it helps you enjoy good function and structure. Root canal treatment and crowns are a good defense against tooth loss, as is gentle periodontal disease treatment that helps arrest gum disease progression and can save your teeth.
Bone loss & drifting teeth – Even after you’ve lost a tooth from trauma, decay, or gum disease, we can help prevent the issues that come with missing teeth. Bone loss for example, is a natural bi-product of lost teeth because your jawbone needs stimulation from tooth roots to stay healthy and strong. Another bi-product from tooth loss is that your remaining teeth can drift out of place, which can change your bite and cause other issues. Replacing missing teeth with dental implants helps prevent both of these issues.
Oral cancer screening – Early detection of oral cancer saves lives, so it’s critical to me and my team that we conduct oral cancer screenings at every visit. If you have a sore in your mouth that’s lasted longer than two weeks, please call so we can check it out for you.
Sleep apnea treatment – If you or a loved one has sleep apnea and you’d like to know more about an alternative to CPAP, please give us a call. We may be able to help you prevent the health issues that come with sleep apnea with a small oral appliance you wear while you sleep.
And finally, no matter what your needs, if you have any dental anxiety that is preventing you from getting the dental care you want and need, or if the idea of multiple procedures at one visit appeals to you, then laughing gas or oral sedation can help you relax while we take care of you.
Yours in dental health,
Dr. Steven Wegner