I get questions all the time about what is the best material or technique for someone’s dental care. The answer,…”it depends.” One of the most simple analogies I can provide is this:

If someone were to ask “What are the best tires I could buy?” That question does not begin to provide enough information to provide a good or accurate answer.

  • Are the tires for a motorcycle, a car, or a truck?
  • Are they for the road, snow, sand or mud?
  • What size wheels will the tires be put on?
  • Does the driver want tires that will last for many miles or just look fancy?

Dentistry is very much the same. Until other questions are asked with the original question about the best dentistry, you really cannot answer that question.

  • Which teeth are we talking about?
  • Are they the back teeth that take on a lot of compression pressure or front teeth that take on sheering loads?
  • Does the patient grind their teeth at night?
  • Are the teeth short or long?
  • Is there good tooth structure remaining or very little?
  • Does the patient want conservative dentistry or is he/she willing to accept something more aggressive or destructive to their body?
  • Does the patient care how long the dentistry will last?
  • Is the dentistry being performed going to be seen by the general public and does the patient care what it looks like if nobody sees it?
  • Is the tooth being restored a natural tooth, a tooth with a root canal or a dental implant?

All of these questions will point you to the answer to the question “what is the best dentistry.” The responsibility of a dentist is to provide choices for each and every patient dependent on the situation at hand. Explaining pros and cons to the different materials and techniques is essential to help patients understand the consequences of the choices available. There are so many different tooth colored materials available today and there are still materials like gold, titanium and other metals, all with pros and cons. How long will it last? How conservative is it vs. other techniques? What will it look like? So, next time you are told you need a crown or an onlay, or any dental procedure, ask if there are more than one choice or materials available and insist upon making an informed decision.

The best material or technique for you? It depends.