By Michael G. Rehme, DDS, NMD, CCN, FIAOMT
How long will my dental work last?
I’ve been asked this question thousands of times. Over the years – from clinical observations and study of the tooth/body connection – my answer has evolved.
I was once told that good dentistry will last approximately 7 to 12 years before signs of recurrent decay, leakage, or fracturing will begin to set in, causing the need to repair and restore the affected dentition. This definition of the life of “good dentistry” may be an average, but there is also wide variation in the life of dental work.
How is it that “good dentistry” sometimes lasts less than two years before needing replacement? Or conversely, after 20 years, the existing dental work in a patient’s mouth looks better than ever with no signs of failure?
Assuming there are no genetic or mechanical flaws – i.e., enamel or dentin hypoplasia, bond failures, material defects, open margins, grinding or clinching of teeth – what possible explanation could there be?
One of my consistent messages has been that if there’s an imbalance in the body, a disease condition will result. If the imbalance is present in the oral cavity, an avalanche of problems can erupt.
This is why I feel it’s so important to check our patients’ pH levels each time they come in for their cleaning appointments. A pH chronically below 6.5 is simply asking for trouble.
If this acidic condition continues, the crevicular fluids (fluids found within the tooth) will start to reverse flow and travel from the outside in, rather than from the inside out. This is not a healthy situation. As this persists, the environment of the mouth becomes compromised.
All too often, people who experience “sensitive teeth” to hot and cold temperature changes or even sweets are beginning to encounter these subtle effects of reversed fluid flow, caused by an imbalance in body chemistry.
This acidic environment is like a breeding ground for bacteria and the subsequent accumulation of plaque and calculus, which will in turn continue to destroy tooth structure, periodontal conditions, and yes, even your dental restorations.
Impeccable hygiene will certainly help, but the key to solving this problem still focuses on your diet and nutritional intake. Become more mindful of the acid forming foods and drinks that are attacking your dentition, and eliminate or severely reduce your exposure to these products.
Since paying more attention to pH levels in patients’ mouths, I’ve found it quite interesting to note that most dental restorations seem to last much longer when the pH readings are near 7.3 to 7.5.
So the next time you’re wondering, “How long will my dental work last?” invest in some pH paper and check your saliva on a daily basis. Dentists can only do so much for their patients. However, as a concerned, health conscious individual, you can take responsibility for your own health and make a difference in your life.
Not only will you be feeling better but, hopefully, you won’t be spending the rest of your life in a dental chair.
Updated from the original