Q: I don’t understand. I went for a checkup and cleaning the other day and they found three cavities. I just saw my dentist up north six months ago and he said everything was fine. How is this possible?
A: Believe it or not, this is a pretty common occurrence. Here in Southwest Florida many people spend their winters here and their summers back home in the northern states. Oftentimes this means that theses people see two doctors, two dentists, two eye doctors, two cardiologists and the list goes on.
Preparing for a season away from home requires a lot of planning and organization. Unfortunately, most of the time dental records and x-rays are not included and left at home. These are a vital part of your dental history and the lack of these records makes it somewhat difficult for the dentist seeing that particular patient.
In this particular instance it’s possible that the dentist may have noted in the patients record a particular area or areas of concern that may need attention at some point. Another factor to consider is that every dentist practices differently. One dentist may prefer to “watch” a tooth or area while another dentist will want to treat a problem as soon as he/she sees it.
Yet another factor to consider is technology. Does the dentist have digital x-rays? Do they take x-rays once per year at check-ups? Do they have laser cavity detection or intraoral cameras?
Intraoral cameras can actually take pictures of these problem areas allowing you to see what your dentist has seen. All of these tools enable your dentist to see and treat small problems before they become bigger ones. This is of great benefit because it allows for more conservative treatment.
Modern, preventive dentistry embraces these tools which benefit the patients by enabling the dentist to perform treatment that is less costly, less time consuming and less invasive. People are living longer, more active lives today so there is no good reason to “watch” an area or tooth.
Watching and waiting only allow problems to grow and become bigger. There is never an instance in which cavities go away or broken teeth fix themselves. The dentist that you have seen here should be able to show you or explain to you where the cavities are and why you need to have them treated. You should also ask your dentist up north if they have any notes that the teeth in question will need treatment in the future.
If neither of these answers satisfies you it may be best to seek treatment elsewhere or at the very least seek a second opinion.
Dr. Eck welcomes your questions and emails. He may be contacted at (239)992-8555 or at marcodentalcare.com.