by Bozhidara Georgieva

The potential of contemporary dentistry for successful treatment and aesthetic correction is impressive

If we decide to list the things that we automatically take for a valid truth the notion "nobody likes going to the dentist" will be probably among the first ten. Indeed, stressed by memories of painful experiences, drilling noise and unpleasant smells, millions of people all over the world each year postpone the prophylactic visit to the dentist – until it is too late.

Truth, however, is more nuanced. Indeed, years ago visiting the dentist inevitably included the above mentioned unpleasant experiences. But in recent years dental medicine underwent a revolution. In the field appeared and were established in practice painless, effective and often minimally invasive methods for treatment of many conditions and diseases – from caries to replacement of missing teeth. The potential for aesthetic intervention and creation of the healthy and beautiful smile of one's dreams also became routine.

This is also true for Bulgaria. Dental specialists in this country have established international reputation and receive world-level university education. The best of them follow the novelties in their field and implement in their work innovative and effective methods and technologies for treatment, correction, aesthetic dentistry. As a result in cities such as Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna you can find dental services at the highest international level of quality. With one important difference – prices of dental treatment in Bulgaria are significantly lower than ones in Western Europe and the US. That is why it is hardly a surprise that quality Bulgarian dental practices attract medical tourists and Bulgarians living abroad, who choose their native country for their dental treatment.

The Covid-19 pandemic introduced dentists to the challenge of providing a safe environment for patients, clinics' staff and physicians themselves. Dental professionals were excellently prepared for this. For years, good dentists have followed protocols that aim to eliminate the risk of transmitting pathogens between patients, physicians and staff: masks, face shields, gloves, careful disinfection. The pandemic only reinforced these trends. Today dentists remain on the lines of fighting for better healthcare and invest time, money and human resources in disinfection of rooms after each patient, and work with PPE.

What will we get when we seek help from a good dentist who works with the most advanced technologies and treatment methods? Regular prophylactic check ups and cleaning of dental plaque and tartar are a priority for professionals. Timely treatment of caries is the first step towards prevention of more serious dental problems such as pulpitis and tooth loss, followed by the need to make and place crowns, bridges, implants. Dental plaque is the result of accumulation of microorganisms that produce acids which destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. Regular removal of plaque and tartar is key not only for prevention of caries, but also of periodontitis (severe inflammation of gums) and bad breath. Advertisements bombard us with products that reduce plaque accumulation, but quality cleaning can be performed at the dentist's office only.

The good dentist is also the one who will help for the effective and professional teeth whitening. Yes, advertisements again offer tonnes of miraculous solutions that can be done at home. But when we want proven and safe results, we need to seek help from an experienced professional.

Contemporary means for dental treatment aim to provide working, lasting and painless solutions. There is hardly a field in dental medicine unaffected by this change. For example, removable dental prostheses that until not that long ago were the only solution for people suffering from teeth loss are now becoming increasingly redundant. They are replaced by implants. Implants are an effective solution for replacement of one or more missing teeth, and are a proven way to restore a patient's ability to eat normally and to smile freely.

Patients with chipped, cracked or discoloured tooth or teeth with shape that is far from the desired can benefit from effective solutions such as bonding and veneers. Bonding is a technology in which correction is performed with a special raisin whose colour blends with the one of the original tooth. It is applied only on the defect and is the cheaper solution. Veneers cover the tooth. Both solutions are minimally invasive, without or with minimal filing of the tooth.

Brackets which were the nightmare of any teenager in need of a smile and bite correction have also changed. Contemporary developments allow even adults to correct their teeth, and "invisible" brackets reduce the stress of how we look like when smiling.

Laser application is among the most significant innovations in medicine in recent years. Dentistry is no exception. Dental medicine uses successfully high energy lasers in surgical intervention and treatment of hard tissues, and low energy lasers in treatment of soft tissues. Their advantages can be hardly overestimated. Thanks to them the patient feels less pain, blood loss is minimised and recovery is faster, with minimal side effects.

In the recent years we also witnessed the introduction of blood plasma use in dental and oral surgery. The result is faster recovery of tissues and reduced risk of infection.

Digital technologies also found effective application in modern dental practice. CAD/CAM technologies for design, analysis and manufacture of details are key in computer-assisted implantology and crown production. In crown manufacture, modern dental laboratories use 3D printing to minimise risk of errors. Digital X-ray utilises the potential of computer tomography and magnetic resonance to provide the fullest picture possible of the patient's tooth status. Intraoral cameras also gain popularity for their potential to record the smile in detail, thus optimising planning of aesthetic correction and implants.

Technologies made possible another major trend in contemporary medicine and dentistry – individualised treatment of each patient. Gone are the times when everyone got the same filings and prostheses. Out of fashion are as well the standard "Hollywood" smiles, which were the result of the rubber stamping of a standardised ideal to thousands of people regardless of their specific face shape and individual character.

Contemporary quality dental medicine increasingly aims to offer treatment and solutions tailored to the patient. Fillings and crowns are in colours that blend with one of the person's natural teeth. Before starting a smile transformation procedure, professionals carefully study their patient to offer a solution that is an aesthetic improvement, but also fits the person's individuality.

Aware of all of these, we, patients, are breaking up from the old mentality which stipulated that a person is born with a set of teeth whose health, shape and alignment cannot be fixed. In the past, beautiful smile and healthy teeth were perceived as god given, and so were bad ones.

Not anymore. Today we can enjoy healthy and well aligned teeth regardless of what our initial lot in the genetic lottery was. But in order to be sure that we will enjoy a beautiful smile for years to come, we should not forget a handful of simple rules.

Healthy lifestyle is as important for our teeth as is for our whole body. Food and drinks with high sugar content increase risk of development of cavities, plaque, tartar. Smoking not only makes teeth yellow, but also significantly increases the risk of developing periodontitis.

Everyday care for dental hygiene should become a second nature, without exceptions. Teeth should be brushed twice a day and interdental spaces should be cleaned with floss or special brushes. Strict hygiene is extra important for people with implants. Yes, the artificial teeth fixed on them will not get caries, but only proper oral hygiene can prevent bacteria from entering between the implant, which is in the bone, and the gum.

Regular visits to the dentist are extremely important. The dentist is the specialist who will identify each disease at an early stage and will treat it properly and timely, who will remove plaque and tartar and will pay special attention to cleaning implants with special tools.

Last, but not least: children should be taught to trust dentists. They need to go on regular prophylactic check ups and to be treated as early as they grow their milk teeth. They should learn from personal experience that going to the dentist is neither scary, nor painful. This is the only way for the notion "nobody likes going to the dentist" to finally die down and become a part of history, where it actually belongs. 


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