T Nation

Future of Dentistry?


Hey PX... what's new and exciting in the world of dentistry? With all the advances in medicine how do you see the future of your profession?

They're talking about regrowing organs thru stem cells on Oprah, any chance of something like that with teeth.

I try to keep good care of my teeth, but damn if I don't have a lot of cavities that have been filled (and 1 root canal as you may remember).

I don't look forward to my later years and needing all out dentures, any good news for those that aren't "old" yet?

obviously prevention is a good idea :wink:


Ya know...sometimes a pm is worth a thousand posts...


Your teeth are a reflection of your diet and hygiene habits. Improper diets leave the mouth with an environment hostile to tooth enamel.


One of the professors in my university was working on a research project with the goal or trying to regrow enamel. To my knowledge it is still ongoing and nothing has panned out....but I am sure in the future it will be possible.

As of right now, the biggest change is that many docs no longer even use amalgam (metal fillings) as many now use composite (tooth colored) material instead.

Other advancements would simply include how things are done and even the anesthetic used. All of the x-rays in my clinic are now digital which means far less radiation than regular x-rays along with being able to see details that you can not see in a small film. That makes diagnosis easier and also we can pick out problems long before they become real issues as they would if we were still using regular films.

As far as holding onto your teeth, quit drinking sodas. I drink mostly green tea and water now. I may have a rootbeer every now and then, but I have quit even buying sodas unless I am out of choices.

Get regular checkups. I get patients all of the time apparently surprised that they have cavities....even though the last time they saw a dentist was 1982.

DO NOT USE A MEDIUM OR HARD BRISTLE TOOTHBRUSH. Use a soft toothbrush or (like I usually recommend) buy one of those spin brushes or the Sonicair. You can damage the enamel on your teeth by brushing too hard.

If you lift weights, you may also grind your teeth...which may require a nightguard to protect your teeth in the long run.

If I think of more I'll post it.


This is ignoring the fact that some people simply have softer teeth more prone to cavities.


I grind my teeth at night and have for a long time. Whenever I go to the dentist they always recommend a guard (which is like $500 to get from them). Right now I simply can't swing that kind of money...but I've recently started wearing the cheaper ones you can find at Target, Wal-Mart, etc. In your expert opinion, do you think the lower quality guards are helping at all? Should I find a way to get the guard from the dentist, or am I okay just using the cheaper ones? Is there a brand/product that you would recommend?



In future dentistry, teeth brush you.


They are helping in that they keep your teeth from touching, but without a custom made guard, you could also get problems with your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) if you are opened unnaturally.

So yes, the best option is a custom guard. Your guard you got at the store is literally "better than nothing".


Good post X, I have a very special relationship with my dentis. I have had 2 canals, and the back of my mouth looks like I'm part robot. When I was younger I didn't brush often or properly, and for a stretch I didn't go to the dentist for about 6 years. I have always had horribly sensetive teeth and every dentist I ever went to was always rough and didn't seem to care that I was writhing in pain. So I stopped going. Yea real smart eh? It would be one thing if I brushed after every meal. Well My teeth are much better now after finding a really good dentist. He did my major work in two session after having me take a knockout pill.

I guess you are still semi awake, but damned if I remember anything. Once the major work was done, I began getting 6 month checkups and they also convinced me to get either an oral B power brush or the sonicare. I tried both but like the sonicare better, apparently it's just personal preference. I TRY to brush morning and night and I floss after dinner, which is supposedly really good for you besides just your teeth. Some of the tips the dentist told me is to dry brush a little first, as toothpaste can lubricate too much so you can actually remove more plaque with a dry brush, then use regular old crest paste with the sonicare for 2 minutes, then use listerine for as long as I can handle it, then finish it up with 30 seconds of act mouthwash.

The act is a flouride rinse which helps mineralize your enamel, making what you have left harder. Appaerently Act is the best because it is more viscous than some of the other brands, and thus adheres to your teeth longer. The good news is my teeth actually feel less sensitive than they used to, and I can go through a cleaning without even wincing once. It could be that the hygenist only has to remove a little bit of buildup instead of the equivalant of scraping barnacles off a ship hull. I am very glad I changed my habits when I did, I believe if I had waited even one more year, I probably would have had 4 or 5 root canals. I had some pretty deep cavaties filled and basically got lucky to walk away with 2.



well i guess i'll get a soft bristle brush then.

my dentist told me grinding can also work the teeth up out of the jaw, exposing the softer tooth surface that would normally be below the gum line. they mentioned this because i had 2 small cavities right at the gum line, and they know i grind.

can you comment on whether dental and mouth health can affect heart and body health? i always thought that was interesting.


Good advice. Use the guard during workouts as well


Is it true, though, that if I get a custom made guard then whenever I have work done (cavities, crowns, anything I guess) that I would need a new guard? That would get really expensive, really quickly.


Bacteria under your gums (especially deep under) can get into your blood stream. This is one reason people with valve disorders are instructed to premedicate with antibiotics before any procedure that could push bacteria beneath the gums.

People with diabetes are more prone to cavities and mouth disease. There is less repair of minor damage and less blood supply. If you have diabetes, you should be seeing your dentist more often, not less.

The issue you spoke of used to be largely theory (abfraction)...which basically means that forces on the tooth surface cause flexural damage over the long term. To my knowledge, this has not been proven as fact yet but I do believe personally it is a combination of tooth wear from brushing as well as forces from grinding and chewing.


Small fillings, no. That could be adjusted. However, yes, if you get new crowns, chances are it will not fit the same.


If you don't mind my asking, why were you watching Oprah?

I watch because I like it when she gives everyone a car :stuck_out_tongue:


You can also open sores in your gums which could develop into a large abscess, causing you to spend your Thanksgiving Holiday with a drain sticking out of your jaw.

Or so my dentist told me.


Also, saliva pH may play a role in why some people seem to get more cavities despite good oral hygiene.


Prof X, I have a question.....

How do you feel about mouth washes that contain alcohol, like Listerine?

During my last visit, my dentist told me that he doesn't recommend alcohol based mouth washes anymore because of studies linking frequent exposure to alcohol and mouth/gum cancer.

I always used Listerine to kill the bad bacteria in my mouth. My dentist claims that regular and thorough brushing and flossing is sufficient for of oral hygeine.

Your thoughts?


In Canada, dentists advocating replacing amalgam fillings with composite can lose their licenses. The link between mercury toxicity and amalgam fillings has not been embraced by the powers that be.

Or perhaps, not yet.


I didn't make that connection and wouldn't. I don't believe mercury toxicity is an issue to the patient. The DENTIST is at more risk.