What I Can't See, I Can't Treat!
What your dentist can’t see, they can’t treat!
When I was in my college days I decided I would try to mow a few yards in between delivering pizzas and summer courses. I bought a used push mower, put out fliers in Morse Landing and got a few clients. The summer went by and I made a couple dollars. Fast forward to the beginning of the next summer. I went to start the mower for another season and it wouldn’t start. I had someone look at it and realized that I had made the mistake of neglect. Not going through the yearly preventive maintenance and winterizing process had taken this $75 push mower and turned it into a $150 repair, which was a lot of ramen.
Oral health is very different from mower maintenance, but the concept of preventive maintenance is applicable. As dentists, we continually see issues arise where preventive maintenance could have saved our patients money and time in the dental chair. In the following case that I treated, routine bitewing x-rays revealed cavities in between the teeth that otherwise would have gone undiagnosed and neglected with just a visual exam or no exam at all. Remember, what I can’t see, I can’t treat!
This is a photo of the two upper premolars with no obvious cavities to the naked eye.
This is mid prep with conservative slot preparations. The arrows are pointing out the decay that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye and could only be seen with an x-ray.
These are the teeth after the composite restorations were placed, adjusted and restored.
The triangles are pointing out the small to medium sized cavities on the bitewing x-rays.
Without the patient coming in for his new patient exam and regular dental visits with bitewing xrays, these cavities would have been missed. The result would have been future tooth pain and either root canal therapy or tooth loss. Instead, they were treated conservatively and esthetically with lower cost to the patient and less time in the chair.