Dental Etiology: Understanding the Cause of Your Problem

Occasionally, a patient will come to my office for initial examination and express frustration over their ongoing dental problems.  Maybe it’s a new cavity every time they see their dentist, or a series of broken fillings or broken teeth. Whatever the specific problem, I tell them about my friend.

My neighbor and friend (not my patient) caught me in my driveway many years ago and asked me if I had a minute.

“I cracked a tooth and want to know if you think I should have a bridge or an implant?” she asked.

I responded, “You’re asking the wrong question.  First you need to know why this tooth is cracked.”

I don’t casino pa natet think she fully understood my point and went to have the hopeless tooth extracted. No sooner had she had the tooth extracted, she fractured another tooth!  This led her to another “driveway consultation”.  “What did you mean before?” she asked.

I explained that dental problems don’t happen in a vacuum.  They happen for a reason.  In medicine and dentistry we refer to this as etiology.  It is important to address the etiology of the problem as part of the overall treatment or risk treatment failure or more of the same kinds of problems in the future.

As it turned out, the etiology of my friend’s problems was a bad bite.  She never expected that her treatment would lead her to an orthodontist and braces before the missing teeth were replaced.  I am very happy to report that she has been problem free for over fifteen years.

If you seem to have regular dental problems, make sure your dentist takes the time to understand, address, and explain to you the etiology of your problems.

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