I want to meet people who consider themselves difficult dental patients because I have the solution to their difficulty: rubber dam. Very often, patients have been told by their dentist that, through no fault of their own, they are a difficult dental patient. Usually the dentist is referring to either a small mouth or a large tongue either of which can make detailed work difficult. The dentist does the best he can but it is a struggle for all. Either the patient suffers or the quality of the dentistry suffer, or both. I am a dentist who ROUTINELY isolates my surgical field with rubber dam. For this reason, I can honestly say that although I am a dentist, I do not work in my patient’s mouth. I work in front of an isolating screen of latex (or non-latex in case of allergies). The benefits to the patient and dentist: (1) Confidence that water, tooth matter, or dental materials will not be swallowed or aspirated; (2) Shorter appointments; (3) Precise, beautiful, and long-lasting dental work. It is very gratifying to me to change the way a patient perceives themselves. I have made many patients over the years change how they perceive their ability to handle dentistry. I make it easier for you with the use of rubber dam.
As some of you may know, my office is a Beatles museum. Some people ask me why. Why not, I say. But beyond my being a fan of the music, there is another Beatles connection to dentistry. On the White Album, there is a song calledSavoy Truffle about toothache. George Harrison wrote it for his friend Eric Clapton who was suffering from toothaches. I guess he had a sweet tooth. Most of you know about Whitman Samplers with the names of each chocolate under the lid of the box. In England, they have the same thing except it is called Good News. Basically, Georges’s lyrics list the chocolates. The lyric is: “Cream Tangerine, Montelemar, a Ginger Sling with a Pineapple Heart, Coconut Fudge yes you know it’s Good News. But you’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffle.”
All my restorative dentistry is done under approximately five times magnification. (I think it’s exactly 4.5 times magnification). The quality of the dentistry is highly dependent on the ability to see well. Decay is a disease caused by micro-organisms. In order to get results that can stand up to microscopic attacks, dentists must think small. Microscopic problems require microscopic solutions.
Rubber dam is an integral part of all my restorative work. It allows me to isolate the surgical field when I’m working on teeth. It provides better visibility for me (in conjunction with magnification loops) and moisture control (very important when doing adhesive dentistry). The rubber dam also prevents dental materials and water from being swallowed or aspirated by the patient. So although I am a dentist, I really don’t work in my patient’s mouths – I work on their teeth in front of an isolating screen. The rubber dam allows me to do the best work possible!
One of the most underdiagnosed diseases of the mouth is occlusal disease. Most people know that dentists diagnose decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. I’m willing to bet that many of you reading this have never even heard the term “occlusal disease”. Occlusal disease can lead to tooth pain, or jaw pain, or excessive tooth wear, or any combination of these three problems. For this post, I just want to give you a quick overview of the causes of occlusal disease. First, lets divide the different types of teeth (incisors, canines, bicuspids, and molars) into two general types: front teeth and back teeth. Front teeth can only accept light pressure because the pressure is applied laterally in a scissoring fashion. Back teeth, on the other hand, can accept extremely heavy pressure because the pressure is applied axially in a crushing fashion. Occlusal disease happens when back teeth are functioning like front teeth or vice versa. Restoratively, the treatment can be either additive to the tooth structure or subtractive. This treatment gets patients’ teeth to function in the way they were intended. If you notice excessive wear on your front teeth, even if you don’t have pain, you may benefit from treating an underlying occlusal disease.