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Boise Dentist Blog

The professional blog of Doctors Dan Bruce, Steve Bruce, Rosa Pothier and Rob Ririe

Treating symptoms vs. looking at the real problems in dentistry

Treating symptoms vs. looking at the real problems in dentistry Yesterday I saw a patient with a tooth that needed a root canal.  It was on a back molar and I noticed that the tooth on the other side had had a root canal earlier.  The immediate treatment was to perform a root canal to get the patient out of pain.  But while looking at how the patients bite came together she was hitting very hard on her back 2 teeth.  After inquiring, we found that this had started to occur about 6 months ago and was getting worse. 

So I sent her to a TMJ and pain specialist for further evaluation.  I turns out that their was some major joint problems and arthritis causing a bite change.  This case emphasizes the importance of looking at the whole patient instead of just the tooth that hurts.  Does the patient clench their teeth?  Is there a history of trauma?  Are sinuses a problem?  Often, looking at the whole person and all symptoms they are having allows us to prevent problems in the future.  Wearing a nightguard for someone who clenches can protect the teeth from fracture and the joints from excess stress.  Finding sleep apnea in a clencher and treating the apnea can reduce the clenching and joint problems. 

Sometimes dental treatment is very simple, but there are many other times multiple factors going into the problem that need to be addressed.