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As with everything in life, there are risks. Certain things have an extremely high degree of risk: cliff diving, jumping from airplanes, or hiking Mount Everest. Other things we do in our daily lives have a very low degree of risk, such as eating a salad, taking the car to work, or going for a walk yet these too have some associated risk as well. Life is a risky business, and in every case, from extremely high to extremely low, even if every precaution is taken, unexpected things can, and do, happen. After all, as Mark Twain famously said, “Necessity is the mother of taking chances.”


It goes without saying then that there would invariably be some risks associated with dental treatments. Some procedures are low risk and daily practice for the dentist and hygienists, and others are more invasive and involve higher risks. There is also the particular combination of an effective and tested procedure, the industry-approved materials used for that procedure, and each patient’s particular biology. By and large, all procedures from large to small are expected to yield specific outcomes; however, even with every precaution that is taken, the variable of individual biology can occasionally throw in a curve ball and a problem may occur.


For example, following a filling, infection has been known to develop, which if it goes undetected or remains untreated, can necessitate root canal treatment. Teeth can become sensitive after a whitening treatment, a common side effect. If one is predisposed to dryness in the lips, they may crack from the mouth having to be open during a cleaning, and the basic removal of plaque could cause gums to bleed slightly or become temporarily sore.


With every procedure you encounter in the dentist’s office, the dentist explains your options and makes recommendations based on your particular oral health and your overall health. She can talk to you about alternatives and other options in addition to the standard recommended procedures. She will also inform you as to what you can expect during and after your treatment or procedure and lay out any risks that have been noted to occur in association with the treatment or procedure as well as how to take care of your oral health and what your home care should entail.


To minimize the risk of any possible problems flaring up after a treatment, it’s wise to follow the dentist’s instructions for post care, and on an ongoing basis, practice good oral hygiene at home, maintain your regular check ups, and continue to see your dentist for cleaning appointments as recommended. If you have any concerns or questions, it’s always best to contact your dentist right away to discuss your situation. Nowadays it’s easiest to dash to the computer and self-diagnose from surfing medical websites, but that can open a can of worms you just don’t need. The best thing to do is chat with your dentist directly. She knows you and your particular oral situation and if you are experiencing uncertainty or discomfort or simply want some advice, she can speak to your concerns specifically and give you a personalized course of action to follow. The peace of mind you’ll get from such a consultation and problem solving session is invaluable.