When I first announced my decision of pursuing a career in dentistry in the late 70’s while attending college, I heard over and over again well intentioned advice: “Why do you want to be a dentist? With fluoride in the water, dentists are putting themselves out of business.” With the advent of cosmetic dentistry, people living longer, and changes to the American diet, such advice could not have been more wrong. We are now in what many call the Golden Age of Dentistry, as demand has far exceeded any projections made when I was a young undergraduate student.
Cosmetic dentistry has revolutionized the dental industry. People no longer visit the dentist to have ugly silver fillings placed in back teeth. There is a huge demand by the American population to look young and feel young. With advancements in bonding and ceramics, it is possible to place esthetic white fillings to replace amalgam and restore dental decay. Porcelain veneers and all ceramic crowns not only replace damaged teeth, but allow skilled professionals to change smiles and shave years off one’s appearance. Dental whitening or bleaching is a simple and harmless way to make one’s smile and appearance look more attractive and enhance one’s self esteem.
Dentures and removable partial dentures are no longer the accepted norm for grandma. Fixed dental bridges, crowns, and implants make it possible for everyone – of any age – to enjoy eating without the discomfort of plastic teeth and pink acrylic. Even the dreaded word “root canal” is no longer. Technological advances in endodontics (root canals) makes it possible to save almost any damaged tooth painlessly, without the need for extractions.
Fluoride never decreased the need for dentistry. The average American now consumes 50 gallons of sugar containing beverages a year. Sodas and sport drinks are creating what the Surgeon General recently called an epidemic of dental decay not seen since prior to World War II when community water supplies were not fluoridated. Our aging population takes billions of dollars of prescription drugs each year. One of the most common side effects being a decreased salivary flow. And our best defense against dental decay is our saliva.
I have enjoyed my career and the people I care for. Advances in cosmetic dentistry, bonding, veneers, crowns, whitening, etc. have created a demand for dental excellence literally unforeseen only a few years ago.
Dr. Paul Callahan, DDS provides Dentistry for Seniors for comprehensive care for maintaining function and good hygiene that can prevent tooth loss and other oral health problems.