Dentistry in Latvia during economic crisis

Leonīds Veļkovičs – director of the dental care centre SIA Svenata at 103 Brīvības Str. (tel.: 67379889, 29249165, svenata@delfi.lv) Our time is full of paradoxes. We dream of a beautiful and plentiful life, but spend our money without rhyme or reason. We want a pretty smile but postpone our visits to the dentist. Crisis calls for changes… I am sure that economic crisis originates in the heads of people. When did it really begin? The answer to this question depends, for example, on how many pairs of jeans we want to own – ten or twenty by luxury brands or two or three from ordinary shops? If the first answer is the case than the crisis began a long time ago, because the cult of consumption is one of the syndromes known only too well to psychoanalysts. Crisis is the time when everyone should seriously reconsider their values and priorities. One must understand which needs are crucial and which can be abandoned for some time. The cosiness of one’s home, for example, does not depend on the size of the TV set in any way! Therefore, it might be the right time to invest in one’s health now, including the health of one’s teeth? It is a sad thing to say but we can lose our teeth in no time if we stop looking after them. Expensive or cheap? In our country, an award is given to the manufacturers of competitive goods each year. Such awards have been given, for example, to the producers of fried sprats or chocolate glazed curd bars, but not to our dentists. If the results of their work were remembered when giving awards it would not do any harm… The dental fillings and dentures developed here in Latvia can be found in almost any corner of the world. It is no secret that when European tourists and businessmen visit Latvia, along with sightseeing in the Old Town and business meetings they also visit local dental care centres. I can affirm that Latvian dental care offers good price to quality ratio for the European market. Foreigners have realized it long ago and gladly use the services of Latvian dental care centres. Local population, on the contrary, seems to be in the dark. Why? Because the realization that teeth need care and treatment and that these services in Latvia are not expensive at all usually comes too late. For example, when one’s tooth starts aching during a foreign tour. And then whether you want it or not you are forced to turn to a foreign specialist whose price will be much higher than in Latvia. Latest opportunities Dental care makes rapid progress today. I can point out two latest directions: bone tissue restoration methods and new thermoplastic materials for dental prosthesis. We hope to be able to inform our patients about the results of the aforementioned research in the first months of the next year. Periodontitis is a very unpleasant condition – teeth loosen and shift position, gradually it gets very painful (especially when eating). Periodontitis is caused by inflammatory processes originating in the oral cavity. Often the bone gets damaged as well. Periodontitis is considered incurable. However, if a patient seeks help promptly, the inflammatory process can be stopped through dental laser therapy. This method allows fighting inflammation and helps to strengthen jawbone tissue. Laser therapy is painless and available at moderate prices. Periodontitis isn’t the only reason that can cause loss of bone tissue. Jawbone can also disappear after tooth extraction – it is no longer needed (it does not perform the biting function anymore) and therefore it grows smaller in course of time or just vanishes. Undoubtedly, it makes prosthetics more difficult. Today we can solve this problem by means of new generation artificial bones. The material is inserted instead of the extracted tooth or into the periodontal pocket. While in the patient’s oral cavity the material facilitates the formation of osseous cells and new bone tissue. As a result, the patient can retain his/her own teeth for a longer period of time or, if the teeth cannot be saved, favourable conditions for dental prosthetics can be created. The necessity to combine bridges and other complicated structures in a patient’s mouth can be reduced thanks to the new thermoplastic material – duracetal (Latin durum stands for firm). It is comparable to metal. Duracetal comes in various white colour tones, which means it can be matched with the teeth of each individual patient. Duracetal can be used both for partial and full restoration of teeth. And now judge for yourself – whether there is a crisis in Latvian dentistry…

The ABC of dental care: Dental implants and most popular types of dentures

Our expert – doctor Leonīds Veļkovičs (Dental health care centre „Brīvības, 103“. Tel.: 67379889, 29249165). If one lives long enough, however hard one or one’s dentist may try, sooner or later one will lose some of one’s teeth. Therefore the issue of rational replacement of natural teeth with dentures or dental implants will become topical for everyone at some point. The main rule in this context is: if you have lost a tooth don’t wait for years, go and consult your dentist as soon as possible. If you don’t do it in due time, you can lose much more than just one tooth in the years to follow due to various reasons. Unfortunately, many of us still remember the severest examples of soviet dental care, which had virtually no knowledge of efficient anaesthetic agents. I can now state with full responsibility that today prosthodontists have top-quality anaesthetics at their disposal and you won’t have to suffer pain at the dentist’s. All dentures can be divided into two groups – fixed dentures (crowns and bridges) and removable dentures (plates and arches). There is no point in providing detailed descriptions of all these types here – if finding the appropriate tooth replacement method were such an easy task, the future prosthodontists and dentists wouldn’t have to study for five years in universities and improve their professional skills throughout their professional careers, while the implants and dentures themselves could be bought at drugstores or even at „Narvesen” coffee shops. Therefore, when you have made an appointment with a prosthodontist – trust him/her, only s/he will know what type of treatment will suit you best, including the financial side of the question. Dentures and implants today are not what they used to be. Bridges and crowns are no longer stamped but casted. Moreover, they can be made from a very wide range of materials, including expensive alloys containing platinum and gold. Crowns and bridges without metal base are another available novelty, the so-called metal-free ceramics. And, finally, porcelain is also widely used – an ideal prosthetic material. Speaking about new solutions that have recently become available in Latvia one cannot omit dental implants. This is a cutting-edge treatment method, which often makes it possible to avoid preparating healthy teeth (as would have been the case if the soviet specialists were to decide), by using another solution instead – inserting a dental implant. Modern implants are designed to minimize the probability of rejection. Worldwide statistics shows that success is achieved in 93-94% of cases, while in our centre these are 98-99 per cent. Another progressive type of removable dentures is the ever-widening application of late – dentures from thermoplastic materials (Valplast, TCS, etc.). Today it is one of the simplest treatments used by many people in case of missing teeth. We were among the first dental care centres to introduce this solution in Latvia. Finally, I would like to emphasize that there is a wide choice of artificial replacements for natural teeth. All the prosthetic methods mentioned in this article can be used in combination, as a rule. Consequently, there is a whole world of different ways of solving teeth loss problems to suit the taste and financial capacity of any client. IN THE NEXT ISSUE: The most popular dentistry myths

The ABC of dental care: The most popular dentistry myths

Our expert – doctor Leonīds Veļkovičs (Dental health care centre „Brīvības, 103“. Tel.: 67379889, 29249165). MYTH ONE. Inflation is rampant, I have no money for medical treatment. It seems that the lack of money is the most powerful excuse for not solving some problem or other. Or rather – to start solving it only when it threatens to reach catastrophic levels. Be honest to yourself and think strategically. If you think that you don’t have money today, how do you know that you are going to have it tomorrow? Remember that saving a little money by forgoing professional dental cleaning, correction of malocclusion or elementary prosthetics today you may have to face much more expensive treatment in half a year or a year. And another thing – if you are planning a vacation abroad ask about the prices on dentistry services there. You will see that some things here are not as expensive as they are considered to be. At least not yet. MYTH TWO. I don’t have much time, do it quickly and ensure top-quality. Do you prefer fast-food or a dinner at home, at a good cafe or restaurant? And is there any difference at all? Aren’t the results identical in all cases: sense of fullness from a hotdog isn’t worse than that from a home-cooked steak, after all. Even though the former will probably give you acid indigestion or gastritis after some time, but nobody thinks about it at first. In theory, any dentist could correct malocclusion (for example, by means of a clamp) in one day or install someone else’s dentures in half an hour and send you back to work beaming with happiness. However, I am sure that none of us would do anything like that, because teeth and gums do not welcome such instantaneous methods. In dentistry we have to deal with very subtle things and operations, therefore be patient. It isn’t reasonable to ask what’s quicker here, the right question is – what’s better. MYTH THREE. Give me 100% guarantee. It is possible that the question „How long is the guarantee period?” is suitable when you buy a TV set or a vacuum cleaner. But it should be understood that a dental care centre is not a shop and dental health cannot be bought at a discount here. When you ask a dentist „How long a guarantee do you offer?” you are asking to predict what your life will be like in the future, while you will go on drinking coffee or red wine or smoking, which is even worse for your teeth. When you ask this question you want your dentist to forecast all your future illnesses and health problems that can impact the health of your teeth, and for women – to even plan their pregnancy in advance, because a child in the womb needs all the calcium it can get… A dentist can only guarantee one thing – the high quality of his work. But she is unable to foresee how the results of this work will be treated afterwards. MYTH FOUR. I pay money, therefore I can break an appointment whenever I feel like it. There are wait lists in all leading dental care centres in Riga, containing not only Rigans, but also foreign tourists, who come on vacation to Riga and use this opportunity to get high-quality and moderately priced dental care services. And yet it often happens that the best specialists are forced to be idle for hours, because a patient cannot inform them about a broken appointment. Please, let us be polite! If you can’t keep an appointment – notify the dentist in advance and the time allotted for your treatment will be used for another patient in need of help.

The ABC of dental care: Show me your dental occlusion and I’ll tell you how healthy your teeth are

Our expert – doctor Leonīds Veļkovičs (Dental health care centre „Brīvības, 103“. Tel.: 67379889, 29249165). In the previous issues we discussed the fact that the probability of caries and periodontitis on clean and smooth teeth is much lower than on imperfect surfaces, because the germs have nowhere to hide. The same holds true for tooth rows. They should be even, and the alignment and relation between the teeth of the two dental arches or bite (occlusion) should be correct. The western way of life is often criticized for many things, but never for lack of diligence or assiduity. Any American understands that by investing money in a simpler treatment today one can protect oneself from much graver problems in the future. It would be a mistake to think that the trademark of almost all foreigners – a shiny pearly white smile – is nothing else but the fruits of a prosthodontist’s labour. It isn’t. Simply, strategically thinking people make it their priority to do everything in good time – and namely, instead of visiting their dentist when their teeth are already aching they get advice on preventive basis so that such a situation is never allowed to occur. For example, Americans know very well that when seven-year-olds or eight-year-olds grow new teeth they should visit an orthodontist – a specialist who corrects dental malocclusion. Unfortunately, every third or fourth person in the world suffers from one or other type of dental malocclusion. What consequences can it cause? In case of malocclusion the load on individual teeth or groups of teeth reaches critical threshold finally leading to tooth decay or even loss. The majority if not all dental problems are caused by some degree of malocclusion. It can and should be corrected not only in childhood, but also in later years. What methods do orthodontists use? By means of various types of appliances they move the affected teeth to positions corresponding to ideal tooth rows and correct jaw relationship. There are different types of such appliances. The fashionable and popular braces are just one of them. Their characteristic feature is that the mechanism itself – the archwire with holders – is glued onto the tooth enamel by means of special glue with anti-caries agents, because during treatment with braces oral hygiene is doubly important, since toothbrushing becomes more complicated. On the other hand, it offers a good opportunity to emphasize one’s individuality by decorating one’s teeth with special stones, rhinestones, crystals and designs. Removable appliances are equally popular and effective. However, installing braces or plates is just half of the work. If you have decided to achieve an ideal dental occlusion, be disciplined, because it may take one to three years to complete the process. The desired result can only be achieved if you are determined, trust your doctor and observe regular visits. As a result of all these efforts you get an excellent appearance and protection from many unwelcome problems in the future. IN THE NEXT ISSUE: Most popular types of dentures

The ABC of dental care: Why is professional dental cleaning necessary and why is it better done before summer sets in?

Our expert – doctor Leonīds Veļkovičs (Dental health care centre „Brīvības, 103“. Tel.: 67379889, 29249165). In the previous issue of „Subbota” we reminded our readers that nobody can take better care of the health of one’s teeth than their owner. One of the most important aspects of such care is preventive dental treatment during visits to a dentist or hygienist for professional dental cleanings. So, what benefits do such procedures give? One of the most popular misconceptions on this score is that professional dental cleaning is meant for fashion models and other celebrities, who are always in the limelight and want a sparkly shiny smile… If you don’t want to shine – don’t, but do you want to lose your teeth before due time? The two most essential reasons for such unpleasant outcome are caries (or, to be more precise, its complications) and periodontitis. If teeth are clean and smooth the probability of both diseases is much lower. Therefore, by investing a small amount of money today in preventive treatment and hygiene you are going to save larger sums in the future. No matter how carefully one brushes one’s teeth it is impossible to remove dental deposits completely from the whole surface of one’s teeth. There will always be hard-to-reach places that can only be treated by a specialist. Usually, hygienists recommend doing professional dental cleaning twice a year. However, smokers, coffee-drinkers and those who drink red wine more or less regularly should find time for extra visits. Or at least they should remember that they are in the so-called risk group. When a hygienist subtly and softly removes dental calculus (and modern technology does allow to do just that) undetected caries can be discovered. Sometimes also defects of dental fillings can come to light – alas, nothing is eternal in this world. Only after the general part of the procedure is completed can the specialist offer additional treatment, such as tooth polishing, coating with specialized protective varnish and solutions. That part really is for those who want to shine. And the last advice of the day: if you don’t want to spend two or three hours at a dentist’s office when everyone else is sunbathing on the beach, take matters in your own hands. Make an appointment with your dentist now, because soon there will be better things to do. Do you like traveling or do you, perhaps, send your children to a summer camp? If you don’t want to spoil your vacation – don’t forget to visit your dentist. You will feel more confident and, very possibly, save money too. Dentistry services are by no means cheap in other countries. IN THE NEXT ISSUE: Correcting malocclusion

The ABC of dental care: The key to pearly white teeth

The ABC of dental care
The key to pearly white teeth
Our expert – doctor Leonīds Veļkovičs (Dental health care centre „Brīvības, 103“. Tel.: 67379889, 29249165).

If you don’t take care of your health no one can do it for you – neither a doctor nor the most advanced modern technology to date. The accepted truth known to each kid – teeth should be brushed twice a day – is still true. This is the ABC of a healthy oral cavity. Despite the fact that the abundance and aggressiveness of advertising often causes an internal protest, what „Colgate” and „Blendamed” commercials say is true. The humanity has not yet invented anything better than toothpaste and dental floss for daily protection from caries. And it also applies to less widely known toothpaste brands, which in any case can only come in retail after a mandatory quality control. Like any other serious issue the choice of toothpaste should appreciate the power of human psyche. If you have been using “Lacalut” your whole life and you have fresh breath and pearly white teeth – go on using it. And yet dentists do recommend changing one’s toothpaste from time to time. Because using one and the same toothpaste for a long period of time can result in habituation, which will make the toothpaste less effective. Therefore, when you have used up all the toothpaste in your current toothpaste tube buy the next one from another manufacturer, try it out. The good news for gadget lovers is that brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush is allowed, even recommended. However, before implementing technological advancements in your bathroom, consult your dentist, who will tell you if your teeth enamel and gums are ready for such brushing twice a day. In any case follow the user guide provided with the respective device; if it says that brushing for more than two minutes at a time is not a good idea – don’t break records. You have consulted your dentist and started using an electric toothbrush but your gums started bleeding? If bleeding is only observed for two or three days – it’s alright. However, if the bleeding does not go away it is possible that you may have diagnosed yourself with gum disease or the initial stage of periodontitis – the most common teeth disease after caries. And gum bleeding is one of its first symptoms. If periodontitis is not allowed to develop unchecked and if early dental help is received it can be stopped painlessly – also for your budget. Don’t make the situation worse! If a problem has been identified – solve it at once! IN NEXT ISSUE: Why is professional dental cleaning necessary and why is it better do it before summer sets in?