Let’s face it, going to the dentist is usually not a the top of most people’s fun list. Going to the dentist does not have to be an unpleasant experience that we dread. Whatever the reason, many Americans skip visits to the dentist. In the United States alone, approximately 65 % of us go to the dentist, but in some states, that number is much lower, even below 52% percent in Mississippi.
Missing out on dental care can lead to real health issues including oral cancer, heart disease, and even alzheimer’s disease. If dental issues are caught early on they can be treated quite easily and at a reduced cost. Once the issues progress, not only does the level of treatment increase but so does the cost.
Why Do We Avoid The Dentist?
1. Dental Phobia – A large segment of the population has an unhealthy fear of the dentist. This can be due to previous bad experiences or a learned trait from their parents. Luckily, dental phobia can be overcome with good communication between patient and dentist. Choosing the right dentist goes a long way to creating a positive dental experience.
2. Cost – Money is always a factor in consumer choices and that includes our health needs. We all make choices every day based on cost. The reality is that visiting the dentist twice a year and finding dental issues early on are far less expensive than waiting until there is a problem developing. For example, in the early stages of tooth decay it can be easily fixed with dental bonding and be done in less than an hour. If left untreated it can enter the nerve of the tooth thus causing the need for root canal therapy and possibly a crown to save the tooth. The difference in cost could be as much as 10-12x the cost of the dental bonding. Also maintaining good oral hygiene at home can go along way to saving you money and discomfort over time.
3. Time – We all have a lot going on in our lives between work and family commitments. Finding the time to take care of our bodies should be a top priority but sometimes it is not. This is where making going to the dentist a routine from an early age comes into play. Dental health is vital to living a long happy and healthy life.
4. Fear of Being Reprimanded – No one likes getting yelled at but many have faced a hygienist or dentist who has lectured them on doing a better job with at home oral hygiene. Again it comes down to choice of dentist and staff. You need to choose a dentist who is open to communication and finding better ways that work for you to maintain your hygiene.
5. Ignorance – Many people have grown up to believe certain myths or wives tales. A good example is that if my gums bleed just a little when I brush that is normal. Bleeding gums are never normal from routine brushing. This is a sign of the development of periodontal disease. The earliest phase, gingivitis, can be reversed but once it advances to periodontitis it can be maintained but not reversed. Ignorance or lack of education is not an excuse to take care of your teeth and gums.
Going to the dentist is as important as seeing your physician. Studies have shown our oral health and our general health are linked. To stay healthy we need to maintain our oral health. That includes regular visits to the dentist for regular dental examinations and professional cleanings. Developing a routine is essential to staying in good health. A routine will make it even easier to keep healthy over the course of your lifetime.