Treating Root Causes, Not Simply Symptoms

Treating Root Causes, Not Simply Symptoms

Let’s start with an analogy.

Imagine a car with a nail in a tire. You can fix the tire and park it in your driveway. Then you come out to run an errand and there is another nail in your tire. 

What the heck happened?!

Turns out, you spilled some nails in your driveway during a recent home improvement project.

When you fixed the tire, what you did was treat the symptom, not the root cause. Had you removed the nails from the driveway, you’d have been able to keep your tire from getting a nail in it again and again.

Dentistry is a complex science, but at Neish Dentistry we try to keep things clear and simple. 

Our patients appreciate our science-based and informational approach. Today, we’re going to discuss a key aspect of our philosophy and approach to your care — the concept of going beyond treating symptoms and actually resolving the root cause of dental health issues.

Applying this philosophy to the practice of dentistry

Your body and dental health can be thought of as one connected system. If a dentist treats only the symptoms you’re currently experiencing, they may be missing the big picture and the underlying cause of the issue.

At Neish Dentistry, we focus on identifying and resolving the root cause of any issue you’re facing. There’s nothing more important to us than helping you achieve lasting health and happiness — and we can’t do that by only treating symptoms.

Let’s look at a few examples of dental health problems where it’s especially important to look beyond symptoms and to actually resolve the root cause of the issue.

Tooth grinding

Also known as bruxism, tooth grinding and jaw clenching during sleep are incredibly common. Too often, dentists rush to recommend an expensive and uncomfortable mouthguard because the mouthguard will prevent damage to the teeth when grinding does occur.

But here’s the problem: The mouthguard does nothing to resolve the root cause of grinding, which may be the result of:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Airway/breathing issues
  • Stress
  • Interrupted sleep

By addressing the root cause, we can prevent the symptom from recurring without the need to continue wearing a mouthguard forever.

Tooth decay

When a tooth is decayed, a filling, root canal, or other treatment is clearly required to halt the spread of decay and restore the function, appearance, and health of the tooth.

But decay is an issue that is fundamentally caused by an acid imbalance in the mouth. Chronic tooth decay can be reduced and possibly prevented by evaluating:

  • At-home care, including brushing with oral neutralizing gels and flossing
  • Diet, avoiding sugary and acidic foods
  • Proper hydration with water and non-acidic liquids

Gum disease

Deep pockets of gum tissue and bleeding gums are common, affecting as much as 70% of the population. The bacteria that infect the gums and cause periodontal disease can be released into the bloodstream. Your immune system will then destroy the bacteria quite quickly — in about 90 seconds. Unfortunately, the waste products released in those 90 seconds contribute significantly to increased risk for stroke and heart attack. 

Because of this, keeping your gums healthy directly impacts the root cause of many forms of heart disease and stroke. Treating the symptoms of gum disease alone isn’t enough. You must maintain excellent gum health and avoid infection. 

Learn more about our health-first approach to resolving gum disease.

Are you interested in a root-cause approach to optimizing your dental health?

See Dr. Scott Neish today!

Our scientific and evidence-based practice is designed with your lifelong health and whole-body wellness in mind. We take great pride in sharing our expertise, educating our patients, building trust, creating lasting relationships, and providing outstanding results.

Schedule your appointment at Neish Dentistry today and see for yourself.

7 Questions You Need to Be Asking Your Dentist

7 Questions You Need to Be Asking Your Dentist

Are you taking full advantage of your time at the dentist? Asking questions is a great way to start taking a more active role in your dental health. Keep reading for our list of 7 important questions we’re always hoping patients ask during their dental exams.

1. How can I improve my dental health?

During your exam, your dentist will look for and explain areas of future concern as well as any current issues. Pay attention to this information and use it as an opportunity to ask follow-up questions.

Ask your dentist for a summary of your overall dental health, how you can better manage your daily care, and any other areas you can improve.

A few specific dental care questions you can ask include:

  • Am I brushing and flossing correctly?
  • Can you demonstrate proper brushing and flossing technique?
  • Are the dental tools I’m using the best choice for my teeth?
  • How do my gums look?
  • Are there any teeth we need to keep a closer eye on?

In addition to these questions, make sure to mention any problems you’re experiencing, even if they seem minor. If you have pain, sensitivity, or abnormalities, bring them up! Remember, catching issues early on is the key to successful treatment and the best way to ensure lifelong dental health.

2. Is there anything I should discuss with my family doctor?

We often tell our patients to think of their mouth as a window to their overall health. This is because a range of whole-body health issues begin by displaying symptoms in the mouth. For example, certain changes in your mouth can be a sign of conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Osteoporosis

Additionally, research suggests common dental issues like gum disease can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other problems like premature birth.

Your time with the dentist is a great time to ask if there are any dental concerns you should discuss with your primary care provider. Find out if your dentist needs to know anything from your doctor as well. For instance, let your dentist know if you recently started taking medication, as it could cause dental complications (like dry mouth).

3. What are the warning signs of gum disease?

A startling 1 out of every 2 American adults age 30 and older has periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to severe infection and tooth loss. It’s also associated with various chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Gum disease is not an issue to ignore, yet the majority of those who have the disease either haven’t been diagnosed or are not actively seeking treatment.

During your regular dental exam, your dentist will look for signs of gum disease and also assess your future risk of developing gum disease. Knowing your risk level and how to watch for these signs yourself is also important. Ask your dentist what to watch for and what kind of preventive steps you can take to keep this dangerous disease at bay.

If you are showing symptoms of gum disease, don’t wait to get treatment. Thanks to technological advancements, gum disease treatments today are minimally invasive and stop the disease right in its tracks

4. What foods are good (and bad) for my teeth?

Did you know that the foods you eat affect more than your general body health? They also play a role in the health of your teeth and gums!

In general, eating a diet rich in protein, leafy greens, and whole fruit is great for your mouth. While sugary, sticky, and acidic foods can cause cavities and should be avoided. Additionally, coffee, tea, and wine can stain your teeth.

If you have concerns about how your diet choices might be affecting your teeth, talk to your dentist. Together you can can discuss what food choices might be causing issues for your dental health.

Keep in mind that over-the-counter teeth whitening kits can actually do more harm than good. Many will cause tooth sensitivity and damage the roots of your teeth. Your dentist can prescribe a professional teeth whitening treatment to help you achieve a smile you’re proud of.

5. When should dental implants be considered?

Have you chipped or broken a tooth? Are you experiencing weak or decaying teeth? Did you get in an accident and lose a tooth completely? Whether you’re currently experiencing any one of these issues or simply want to be informed in case of a future issue, talk to your dentist about dental implants.

Dental implants are the best way to replace and restore missing or damaged teeth. Not only will they bring back the natural and healthy functionality of your smile, they also look and feel just like your natural teeth.

Make sure your dentist offers titanium dental implants and can offer CEREC technology in order to get the most long-lasting and natural results.

6. Will you conduct an oral cancer screening?

Oral cancer can be a life-threatening disease, so it’s important to be screened regularly. While traditional oral cancer screenings were done with the naked eye, modern dental technology now allows dentists to take a more effective approach.

Here at Neish Dentistry, we use the VELscope, a minimally-invasive and highly thorough tool that allows us to accurately identify oral cancer or precancerous growths early on. It’s a completely painless process and takes just a few minutes.

7. Can you help me overcome my dental anxiety?

If you get nervous before visiting the dentist, you’re not alone. An estimated 60% of the population has anxiety about going to the dentist. It’s okay to be nervous as long as you don’t let it stop you from taking care of your mouth.

If you have feelings of anxiety, bring it up at your appointment! A trusted dental team will be more than happy to help you overcome this fear. For example, you may feel more relaxed if your dental team explained every step of the exam to you, paid close attention to anything causing you discomfort, and offered comfort amenities to help you relax.

Our Neish Dentistry team has purposefully designed the most comfortable dentist office in Beaverton to help alleviate this fear. We’re committed to your comfort and satisfaction and we’ll do everything we can to help you feel relaxed.

“Dr. Neish and his team are very professional while making you comfortable during your visit. They keep up-to-date on all the current dentistry advancements and always provide all the information needed when making recommendations.”
– Mike

Have questions? We’d love to answer them!

Great dental health is possible when you take an active role in your care! Don’t pass up the opportunity to ask questions and get valuable advice from your dentist.

Our Beaverton dental team strongly believes in working closely with our patients to provide integrative, proactive, and personal dental care. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, now is a great time to make a dental exam appointment. Give us a call at (503) 641-1600. We’re here to listen to your questions and work together to get you on a path toward lifelong dental health.