Doctor means Teacher

The origin of the word “doctor” is from the Latin verb “docere” which means “to teach”.  This was always something fascinating to me during my training because not only is our job to correct malocclusions and straighten teeth, we should teach our patients about their dental health as well.  We have such a great opportunity in orthodontics!  We get to see patients every 4-6 weeks and we can reinforce great brushing at each appointment and teach them about plaque and the damage it can do to teeth during orthodontic treatment.

We obviously encourage great brushing during treatment at West County Orthodontics but we aspire to do more.  We explain to patients that if it looks like “a little bit of white bread” on your teeth it’s plaque.  That plaque, when given a little bit of sugar (and sugar can be in healthy foods like fruit and milk) produces an acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth.  When the process continues, the teeth become decalcified with white spots that are scars on the teeth and will not come off without fillings or bonding.  We show patients different ways to attack the plaque and have beautiful smiles when braces come off.

When braces are taken off we remind the patients that it is not only a fantastic smile day, it’s a new beginning for their oral hygiene.  With beautifully straight teeth it is easier to brush and amazingly easy to floss.  It is the perfect time to begin new brushing habits to last a lifetime.

We had a patient the other day that got her braces off last month.  She said, “there are a LOT of people out there with really messed up teeth – I really LOVE my straight teeth!  I sure do notice other peoples’ teeth now that mine are perfect!”

We love when the patients become more “dentally aware” of their teeth when their braces have been removed.  They notice others and how great their teeth look.  This awareness is a great start to a life of good dental habits and a great smile for life!

Sharon Lee Mason, DDS, MS