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Are You Looking for a New Dentist?

Daniel Balaze, DMD, FAGD, Dentist in Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

There are many reasons that people need a new dentist.  This is true.  And everyone is different and unique in their needs.  But!  We find that there are several distinct categories that people tend to fall in.
Figuring out which one you are helps us give you the exact appointment that will meet your expectations.

Are your needs urgent?
  • This could be a true emergency, like a broken tooth, a severe tooth ache, an infection.  Or this could be a job interview that is coming up and you need your teeth cleaned and brightened by a specific date.  If your needs are urgent, we are going to want to focus on solving those problems first before we move into a comprehensive treatment plan.
Do you have a history of routine care?
  • If your answer is yes, then the odds of you needing significant dentistry just went down significantly.  [btw, this is why we developed our subscription plan – to encourage frequent visits and lower our patients risk of new problems]
  • If your answer is no, and you don’t have any urgent needs, then we are going to want to have a very thorough and detailed exam to make sure that we know as much about your mouth as possible.
Have you had recent dental xrays?
  • If your answer here is yes, but you haven’t had routine care and you dont have urgent needs, then my guess would be that you are looking for a second opinion.  If your xrays are less than 5 years old, we may be able to use them instead of making new ones.  Of course, sometimes new xrays are needed.  Check out the page about dental xrays to learn more about when and why we need xrays.

Our Practice Philosophy

  • We believe that dental health is attainable for you.
  • We believe that we can help you get there.
  • We believe that you deserve excellent dental care.
  • We believe that doing things the right way, the first time, saves everyone time, money and frustration.
  • We make Excellent Dental Care a JOY.

The 3 Simple Rules

In our office, you will often hear me talk about 3 simple rules. The first two go together in our new patient consultation, and whenever we are working on a more thorough treatment plan. They are – #1 No strangers. #2 No surprises.

The first rule, “no strangers”, means that I don’t allow any strangers in my dental chair. I want to get to know you, your needs, your circumstances, your health and your mouth – before we start to work together.

In order to accomplish this, your first visit will begin with an open discussion. Common topics include past dental experiences – we don’t want to repeat any negative experiences, current state of health – we know that medicines, inflammatory conditions, and many medical conditions influence your oral health, and your dental future – where do you see your oral health in ten, twenty years? This discussion, or interview, helps us frame what we will spend our time doing during the examination phase.

The second rule, “no surprises”, means that we spend a lot of time learning about you and your health, discovering any problems that you may have. After the discovery process is finished, we then work together with you to develop a treatment plan designed to fit your unique needs. After we develop your plan together, you will know exactly what we will be doing together, how long it will take, and how much investment will be required.

If you are coming in because of an urgency, this exam will likely be focused on the issues that are most important to you. We would only spend time learning about that urgency – broken tooth, swollen gums, bad breath, or a tooth ache – so that we can begin solving that problem for you as soon as possible.

If you do not have any urgent concerns we will begin with a very thorough exam.

It’s important for me to share this now – do not be worried about the current condition of your mouth. We see so many people in different stages of oral health, and we are here to support you in getting healthier. No amount of tartar, bleeding gums or missing and broken teeth will surprise us. You have complete forgiveness and amnesty in our office. 😉

We approach our exam in a very systematic way. From the outside in. First we examine the outside of your mouth – skin, muscles, and your jaw joints. This is where we would discover things like TMJ dysfunction, muscle spasms, and common skin conditions.

Then we move inside the mouth and examine the gums, cheeks, hard and soft palate, tongue and floor of the mouth. We are looking for common things like tori – extra growth of bone that commonly occurs on the tongue side of the lower jaw, the cheek side of the upper jaw, or right in the center of the palate. Also on our radar in this part of the exam are things like linea alba, leukoplakia and geographic tongue – to name a few. We also continue the muscle examination making sure that there aren’t any signs of occlusal disease.

At this point in the exam we begin to get a little more detailed, looking at each tooth individually. It’s important for me to note not only where there are existing fillings, crowns, bridges or implants, but also where there are areas of wear, signs of fractures, or teeth that are malpositioned. We make detailed notes about areas that may have problems so that we can review them alongside the xrays and photos that we make. We also closely examine the gums, noting areas of inflammation, recession, tartar build up, and bleeding.

The next thing we do is to make any necessary x-rays. In our office, we are completely digital and utilize a hand-held x-ray unit. We also have a digital panorex machine which allows us to take a look at everything between your ears and from your eyes down to your chin. When we look at x-rays of your teeth, we are looking for cavities, of course, but we are looking for more than that. It’s also important for us to evaluate bone levels, and all the areas around your teeth. Sometimes, infections can form around your teeth without you even knowing about it. This is especially true if you have had any root canals or implants. Those areas have the potential for infections that may or may not cause you any pain.

 

Two other things that we may do as part of our information gathering are photographs and study models. Photos are important for communicating a lot about what your current situation is as well as the possibilites of what we could do to help you achieve greater oral health.

 

The study models we make are an extremely valuable tool when we are planning your restorative case.
We will mount them on a jaw simulator called an articulator. We have several different models of articulators in our office, but they all operate in essentially the same way.

Earlier, I said there were three rules. The last one is what I like to call the “daughter rule”. When I work through treatment options for my patients, I make sure that all of your options would pass the daughter rule. Meaning, I would personally be recommending the same treatment to my own daughter.