You could fill a library with all of the things I’ve yet to learn. As a matter of fact, you could probably fill several if you included subjects like: smooth talking, winning arguments with your wife, or how to grow more hair. Each day is a classroom and the wisest of us constantly learn something new.
As doctors, we go to a lot of school. Dental school is four years after college, plus two to six years of residency for specialists. For those of you counting, that’s twenty to twenty six years of schooling before the first paycheck…not that our parents or the banks that fund student loans noticed.
When I got out of school, I thought I was ready to conquer the dental world. I felt confident in my skills and had the added experience of my better half, who graduated a year before I did. Show me a broken tooth and I’d fix it.
Funny thing is that we have gradually learned that there is a lot more to fixing teeth than fixing teeth. As a matter of fact, we spend at least half of each day addressing health problems outside the mouth. In school, we learned to fix teeth, but in practice, we’ve learned to fix people. Here are a few areas that modern dentistry can help with that might not have occurred to most of us:
Headaches/Chronic Pain/TMD – We see several patients a week that have been diagnosed with some type of pain that is actually related to their bite or the way their jaw works. Many of these patients are taking strong medications that could be avoided with the proper dental treatment. Most don’t even know that a dentist could help them. Fresh out of school, we didn’t know we could help them, either.
Sleep Apnea /Airway – We are constantly seeing studies about how airway and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are serious threats to health. For mild to moderate OSA cases, your dentist can actually make an appliance that is much more comfortable than that CPAP or fighter pilot mask. I know because I wear one to prevent snoring every night.
The Fountain of Youth – Okay, I am exaggerating a bit…your dentist cannot make you young again. Good news is that we can make you LOOK young again. New white teeth, a better denture, fuller lips, straighter teeth, less wrinkles around your mouth…these are all things that a dentist can provide. The most fun we have at work is making patients feel good about themselves.
Yes, we still do a lot of fixing teeth and that will always be our focus. Hopefully, we can help in other areas as well.
Until next time, keep smiling.
‐Questions or comments can be sent to Drs. Parrish at ParrishDental@aol.com.