Your teeth, if cared for properly, can stay healthy and functional for a lifetime. The value of good oral health can’t be exaggerated. In addition to helping you eat and speak without issue, a healthy smile promotes overall well-being. Poor oral health has been linked to serious conditions, including heart disease, dementia, respiratory infections, and diabetes.
But even with all the benefits of maintaining healthy teeth, patients often put off treatments needed to keep their mouth in good shape. Unfortunately, avoidance can lead to bigger problems down the road.
Just a Cleaning, Please! It happens almost daily﹘ patients request “just a cleaning” without an exam from the dentist. As a doctor, I took an oath to do no harm. If I allow patients to have their teeth cleaned without assessing the state of their oral health, I’m putting them at risk.
As I mentioned, the health of your mouth is linked to your total health, and I can’t in good conscience let patients come into my practice without looking out for their best interests. While regular cleanings benefit your oral health, radiographs and doctor’s examinations ensure that potential problems can be addressed.
Education First. Making the extra effort to educate people on the specifics of their oral health builds trust between doctor and patient. I never want to treat someone for a problem without them understanding why.
If I find an issue that requires additional treatment, the first thing I do is walk the patient through the situation. I explain the cause, what can be done to correct it, and the consequences of delaying dental treatment. Many dentists omit the consequences aspect of the conversation, allowing patients to avoid treatment without understanding the future effects of their choices.
The Cost of Delay. I often tell my patients, “You can pay for it now, or pay for it later.” While opting for dental treatment right now may seem expensive, in five or ten years it will cost you far more. Not only will your oral health decline, causing pain and possible tooth loss, you will have to pay even more for treatment since your condition will be much worse by then.
Neglecting one small problem can lead to a domino effect. For example, if you lose one tooth and never fill the gap with an implant or a bridge, the teeth on either side of the gap will start to shift and become weaker. You also lose some of your chewing ability and have the potential to develop headaches.
On the bright side, if you choose to face the issue head on, you can avoid all of those problems and restore the health of your mouth. So, when you think about the cost of dental treatment, consider the money, pain, and hassle you’ll be saving in the future by doing what’s best now.