The true sign of optimal oral health is when the mouth is free of disease and the masticatory system is balanced. Your masticatory system gives you the ability to chew, swallow and speak. It includes your jaw, teeth, temporomandibular joints, lips, cheeks, muscles, head and neck. Here's how you can ensure optimal oral health and lasting implant success.
How do I know if I have optimal oral health?
As a dentist, I look at the overall health of my patients to help ensure that optimal oral health exists, and that they are free of disease. It is what is called “complete dentistry” because it looks at the occlusal function (or bite)—when the teeth, muscles and joints all work together, it helps determine if an implant will have a higher success rate.
The reason this is important is because people who have healthy gums, teeth and tissues are better able to support implants because everything works in harmony. This is why I complete this evaluation prior to starting any implant treatment plan.
When a patient comes in with a missing tooth, most of the time, it is because of a breakdown in this complex system. If there is one tooth out of position, it could cause future repercussions, including grinding, headaches and clenching.
There are a lot of hints that can provide an overall picture of what is happening with your health. As part of my examination and individualized patient approach, I look at different components inside the mouth and specifically the teeth—as well as looking at wear patterns, chipped teeth or an uneven bite.
Here are a few scenarios that I look for:
- If your muscles are really tight and the enamel shows wear, you might be clenching your teeth. This might mean that an appliance is needed to protect your teeth and relax the muscles.
- If you come in with a broken tooth, it is helpful to find out how to prevent it from happening once an implant is placed.
- If you have TMJ, it can sometimes be fixed without surgery by using an appliance that helps to relax the joint. It is similar to a bite guard that prevents you from grinding your teeth.
When any of these scenarios are out of balance, I work to fix these issues prior to placing the implant if needed because it provides for longer longevity.
The majority of patients have some type of imbalance like the ones listed. However, not everyone has the same system. There are times when it’s better to not fix an issue because the mouth is able to make adjustments. Therefore, it is okay to leave it as is.
We also look at the weakest link and determine if it is something that might be able to fix itself without any intervention. Complete dentistry is not a new term, it means that we look at all the components to help create long-lasting success with the implant and restorations that are being placed.
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Dr. Fung graduated from NYU School of Dentistry in 1999, obtaining an award in Adult Comprehensive Care. She has over 20 years’ experience with advanced training in full mouth reconstruction, functional occlusion for TMJ issues, Implant dentistry, Invisalign orthodontics, as well as cosmetic dentistry. She is a newly awarded AAID Fellow and a Diplomate in Implant Dentistry through the American Board of Oral Implantology
Dr. Fung is a member of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry as well as the Dawson Academy of Full Mouth Reconstruction and Smile Design. She is involved in humanitarian dental services for children, orphans, handicap and the elderly. She is married to her husband Christopher and together they belong to many pro animal welfare foundations. In her leisure time, she enjoys painting and traveling to different areas to discover other cultures.