Rethinking How We Care for Our Teeth- P4 Dentistry and CRM to Improve Healthcare

When you’re sick, you go to the doctor. When you’re really sick or seriously injured, you head to the hospital. When you’re having pain in your mouth, you head over to the dentist. This is still the way we tend to think about healthcare, and it’s an outdated way to approach the entire matter. The problem is that merely reacting to health problems instead of being proactive about our health is expensive, unsatisfying, and leaves you dealing with a whole lot of pain that could have been avoided with proper early intervention. Nowhere is this more true than in the field of dentistry. Waiting for painful problems; drilling, filling and hoping for the best; and only seeking care when it’s clear there’s something to treat leaves people dreading the dentist and putting off care, which leaves people frustrated and more likely to delay future visits. So, what if there was a better way?

Caries Risk Management™ (CRM) and P4 Dentistry™ offer a better way to treat patients, a better way to care for oral health. Caries Risk Management™ and P4 Dentistry™ change the way we as dental professionals approach patient care and change the way we as patients participate in our own dental healthcare.

Looking for a cavity, dental caries, that has already formed and is threatening the health and viability of the tooth is an exercise in frustration. It’s frustrating for the dental care team who spends all their time treating symptoms of the disease with a drill and some kind of restorative material- be it glass, ceramic, resin, or amalgam. It’s frustrating for the patients who feel like all the dentist can do for him or her is find and fill holes in the teeth that they can’t possibly get to stop forming. Drill and fill dentistry is, at its core, a symptom treatment method. It doesn’t address the underlying disease process that causes dental caries to develop.

CRM™ is focused on finding the source of the problem rather than treating symptoms as they flare up. CRM™ uses a CRA Form to look at the patient’s risk factors and focuses on addressing those factors, thereby interrupting the disease process before caries develop and threaten oral health. By spending time examining risk factors from diet, genetics, pH balance issues, biofilm concerns, and proper salivary flow, cavities can be prevented instead of just treated after they emerge. This focus on prevention in CRM™ feeds directly into P4 Dentistry™ and why it is a game-changer for dental healthcare.

P4 Dentistry™ is built on 4 anchor principles. The approach of P4 Dentistry™ is: 1) Predictive, 2) Preventive, 3) Personalized, and 4) Participatory. With this approach, healthcare starts with predicting possible problems, utilizing every possible tool to do so, from simple surveillance looking for the earliest possible signs of a problem, using individual health history to consider possible future issues, and even using genetic information to predict possible problems among other tools. Preventive means using your healthcare energy and resources to keep problems from developing instead of waiting until a condition is making you ill to treat it. In the dental world, that might mean something as simple as treating dry mouth daily to prevent caries down the road. It’s also personalized—it considers each individual with his or her specific risk factors when developing a wellness plan. Most importantly, P4 Dentistry™ is participatory. Patients are active in the conversation and developing the plan to maintain their good health. They are active workers toward building and maintaining good health, not just recipients of care, but also part of the care team.

If you are a dental professional who wants to offer your patients a better plan and better health, combining CRM™ and P4 Dentistry™ affords you the opportunity to do just that. If you are a patient, CRM™ and P4 Dentistry™ can break the cycle of frustrating, unsatisfying, or even painful dental visits that don’t seem to really help you keep healthy teeth. It’s time to change the way we provide healthcare for the sake of everyone involved.

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