How Does a Dentist Plan Your Treatment?


You know you have a few things in your mouth that are just not right. You make an appointment at the dentist, have x-rays and an examination, and now the dentist informs you of what treatment is needed for you to achieve dental health. How does the dentist decide what to do first?

Treatment Priority

Step one is always to handle any emergency. If a tooth is throbbing it may need to have a root canal if it can be saved, or it will need to be extracted. If your gums are hurting you may need to have gum treatments to address that problem.


Once the emergency or emergencies are handled the dentist will recommend addressing your gums. If you are pretty healthy on the gums or have gingivitis a simple cleaning will be all that is needed. If you have large amounts of buildup of plaque and have bone loss, a deep scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning with a local anesthetic) is commonly needed to get the gums healthy. In some cases further treatment is needed if the bone loss is too great, and that is known as periodontal surgery.

Teeth and Fillings

When the gums are reasonably healthy it’s time to address the teeth. Smaller cavities are treated with fillings. If too much tooth structure is missing or if the tooth has had root canal therapy a crown may be recommended to restore the tooth. The choices are usually based upon the clinician’s judgment and experience. There are also different materials (composite filling, amalgam filling, porcelain crowns, all metal crowns) which the dentist will choose to restore your teeth.

Missing Teeth

The next part is to address missing teeth. The dentist will make earlier decisions (in terms of fixing teeth) based upon the end result he is looking for. Dental implants are considered the best way to restore missing teeth. There are also fixed bridges which are permanent restorations which can restore a mouth without implant surgery. Removable partial dentures are also a choice but not considered the best choice for the final restoration.

Cosmetic Dentistry

The last part is addressing the cosmetic aspect for the patient. This may come earlier in the treatment sequence depending on the urgency (how bad off are the teeth; is there a cosmetic emergency?) of addressing esthetics. Choices here are as simple as whitening, bonding to close spaces, or to have veneers or crowns to change the shape and color of the teeth.

So this is an overview of the thinking process which the dentist goes through to deliver good service for you!