Osteopathic medicine is a distinct type of practice. An osteopath utilizes much of the same technology as other doctors, is able to prescribe medicine, and employs similar methods to evaluate and diagnose problems. To fully explain what is osteoplasty in dentistry, it must be recognized that an osteopath is not trained to be a dentist, nor does a dentist receive the same kind of schooling as an osteopath. Their disciplines overlap in cases when the bones associated with the oral cavity are involved.
In the United States, osteopaths are considered to be medical specialists, and are licensed to practice and perform surgery in every state. The beginnings of this branch of medicine were somewhat controversial because they involved manipulation of the bones and joints, which went against principles of conventional 19th century medical teachings. During the 21st century, however, the practice was merged into mainstream medicine, and these doctors became known as osteopathic physicians.
Many osteopaths emphasize preventive medicine, and concentrate on achieving a higher quality of wellness through disease prevention and promoting good health practices. While they employed many of the positive aspects of “new age thinking” before it even had a name, individual osteopaths today concentrate on many different medical specialties, including surgery. Osteopaths try to treat the individual as a whole person rather than viewing organs and bodily systems as independently operating mechanisms.
These physicians believe in the influence of bone structure over function, meaning that a problem with bodily structure in one area may affect full function and health in other regions. Even though they have no philosophical reason to oppose any medical treatment, many strongly believe in the body’s innate ability to heal itself, if given the proper chance and best circumstances.
Some doctors of osteopathy have been working with dentists for years. Solving the bone-related issues of face, mouth and teeth makes both professions somewhat interrelated. Few dentists, however, actually receive training in the osteopathic relationship of bodily motion to fully functioning facial bones, membranes and fluids. When the two professions combine their medical knowledge, they are able to solve many bone-related dental problems more quickly and with less trauma.
Dental osteoplasty involves using a surgical procedure to alter or repair the bony structures which support the gums. Gum disease and subsequent bone loss are still prevalent even in this age of widely available dentistry, and are responsible for causing twice as many lost teeth as decay. Gum disease is serious, and can lead to the development of problems in other regions of the body, including heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis.
While some gum disease-related issues are the result of personal neglect, up to 30% of them occur only because patients are genetically predisposed. Osteopaths working in tandem with dentists are able to help these patients by illuminating the causes of their discomfort. Certain problems with swallowing, for example, can lead to pressure on the teeth, encouraging pain, gum and tooth problems.
Many dental and oral issues cannot be solved by osteopathic treatments alone. Some require special appliances in order to correct or retrain the swallowing mechanism, even as they allow bone structure to regrow and change. Determining what is osteoplasty in dentistry means understanding how osteopathic surgeons and dentists work together to solve bone issues as they relate to loss of gum tissue.