Life and Teeth

Publication: Montana Woman Magazine

Dr. Tom Pittaway has practiced dentistry at Plaza West in Kalispell since 1993. He is an American, born in Germany, raised in Calgary and educated at Gonzaga U. and Washington University School of Dental Medicine, in St. Louis. He began his career in the Canadian Arctic, shifted extremes to Honolulu for three years and then settled in Kalispell. A member of the American Dental association, Montana Dental association, and the 1st District Dental Society, Dr Pittaway is also a Mentor for the Kois Center for Advanced Dental Learning in Seattle, one of the premier educational facilities in the U.S. and the world. An expert in cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry, Dr. Tom believes in constant learning and improvement .


By Dr. Tom Pittaway

When I was given the opportunity to write a column for this magazine, I had no idea that deadlines would approach with such blinding speed. Life as well, has been racing along, good and bad, a continuum of our journey through the universe. Some friends died recently, suddenly, young men in their prime. I was reminded that, every day we wake up, could be our last.

My dilemma became apparent, should I attempt to write fun informative columns about dentistry, or share my feelings about life in an empowering way to enrich the lives of my readers. I’ve decided to give all of you the best three or four hundred words I can muster, in an informative, enlightening and fun way. To provide some answers about dentistry and perhaps life as well. After all, who reads columns about just teeth, except dentists!?

We are all different and we are all the same. All of us are together on this round speck of dirt that has hurtled through the universe for eons. We are in this together, waiting and searching for enlightenment about our miraculous existence. According to the mysteries of metaphysics, we are all connected, one.

Fortunately teeth are no such enigma. A smile can be magic, much more than enamel and tissue, it is an expression of love, happiness, joy . A smile can be priceless, and yet we can give one to everyone we see, and almost always get one back! A smile is how we express ourselves.

A smile is also a measure of health and happiness. My greatest reward was to give back a smile to a person who had damaged her teeth when she was younger. When she left my office crying, because she could smile without embarrassment, I knew I had given her something valuable. It is not easy to measure how our emotional health affects our general well being, but we know for sure, there is a big connection.

Research does provide sobering facts about health and teeth. We now have proven that gum disease increases risks of heart disease, stroke, premature birth, and even premature death. I have quipped to patients, floss or you will die. Of course that is overkill, we all die, but did you know we live longer when we have more teeth! The health of our mouth is intimately connected to the health of our bodies, and vice versa.

The good news is that, in Nature, health is the rule, disease the exception. If the conditions are right, all creatures are completely healthy, carefree, perfect visions of our miraculous creation. Civilization comes with a price however. Adaptability, resistance and susceptibility to disease determine what can happen to a dynamic biologic system that is interconnected with the entire body, not to mention the universe. Dental medicine is evolving continuously to meet the challenges posed by our existence. One thing I know for sure, if you love your teeth they will love you back. Love is the answer. So keep smiling, and floss dammit!

Next month, the real scoop on whitening.