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Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?

Treat symptoms (results of disease) or diagnose systems (causes of disease)?

One of the biggest joys I have in life is working with a patient who wants to become healthier by co-learning with me about the status of their oral health, and going through a process of diagnosis, prevention and treatment that can be life changing!

I have spent countless hours throughout the last 35 years studying far above the norm to become the best dentist I can be. This learning adventure has been joyful, insightful, laborious and satisfying – but I will never be completely satisfied as long as there is more to learn. I have had mentors along the way that have taught me how a healthy mouth appears and functions as a system and how an unhealthy one can definitely change the state of one’s systemic health. I believe that patient education is vitally important…..the word DOCTOR means TEACHER. Therefore, I spend the necessary time in the beginning learning about and educating my patients.

I have found that most new dental patients are seeking remedies for problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, enhanced appearance and improved chewing ability. Most dentists will satisfy these needs by filling, crowning and cleaning teeth, providing teeth whitening procedures, veneers, porcelain crowns and implants to replace teeth. This is the modus operandi of 99% of practicing dentists. And I do all of the above, however in a more calculated and holistic manner. I perform a diagnosis – but not just “how many cavities or gum pockets you have,” or “how I can replace your missing teeth with implants,” or how “six or eight veneers on your front teeth can solve your appearance problems.” I perform all of these procedures, but before starting I perform a thorough diagnosis of my patients’ entire oral system. After all these years of dental practice, being a student and teaching, and having learned how a stable and attractive mouth appears and functions as a healthy system, I cannot jump in and fix problems that may be the result of a system not being in harmony without first looking into and correcting the cause(s). Why are teeth crooked or worn? Why is there jaw joint noise and pain? Could neck, head aches and migraines be the result of an oral system being out of balance? Could broken teeth be the result of their not meeting properly? Could your bleeding gums be causing you a systemic health risk? Could your systemic health be contributing to your bleeding gums?These are questions we need to consider prior to performing any treatment, excepting of course for pain and social (appearance) emergencies. This is the difference between treating symptoms and diagnosing systems.

So, you see, my background and experience offers benefits to my patients beyond continuing on a path of merely repairing and replacing the results of disease. My in-office presentations and those I do within and outside of my community represent my commitment to provide information towards an understanding of how the mouth functions as a system, and how its health can influence and be influenced by bodily health. My knowledge and training requires that I teach my patients the cause of their problems to stop the continual repair and replacement cycle, similar to a mountain climbing guide who would give you the proper knowledge and equipment to get you to the top. We can get to the top if you have as much interest in your health as I do, as teamwork is what allows it to happen. When dental services are diagnosed correctly, planned carefully and performed properly with a holistic approach that considers the entire oral system, it can be one of the best investments you will ever make as it can improve your physical and mental well-being and offer you a lifetime of oral health!

Treat symptoms (result of disease) or diagnose systems (cause of disease)?

Robert P. McBride, DDS, MAGD