Over the past few years, almost all healthcare disciplines have begun to stress prevention as the new name of their top game – and dentistry has not been an exception. Preventive dental care coverage has increased dramatically among most insurance companies, so it’s now more affordable than ever.
Nevertheless, these deep efforts by public health consultants and individual practitioners often fall short when it’s time to pick up the phone and schedule your next checkup or deep cleaning. Whether it’s lack of money, time, or simple lack of awareness, the truth is that most Americans fail to get their recommended 6-month cleaning sessions.
It can be hard to see the immediate benefits of seeing a dentist when “nothing’s wrong.” So next time you feel tempted to indefinitely postpone your next session, keep the following benefits in mind.
- Prevents Future Serious Dental Problems
This is the most obvious and frequently mentioned benefit of preventive dental care. Your mouth is made up mostly of muscle and bone, which is why – save for the occasional blunt trauma – most oral health problems are insidious and slow to develop.
You may feel that your mouth feels the same following a checkup or deep cleaning session. The goal here is for everything to stay the same for as long as possible! This way, you will be able to stave off the following problems:
- Advanced periodontitis
- Tooth loss (edentulism)
- Biting problems or bruxism
None of these problems are the kind that just show up one morning out of the blue. Most gum problems and tooth loss result from letting bacteria fester in the hidden pockets of your mouth. Biting problems, on the other hand, may have complex causes – but they also grow silently for months before they start hurting.
- Helps You Catch General Health Problems
Everything in the body is connected, which is why oral health should never be seen as separate or secondary to general health. Study after study has shown that there is a strong link between periodontitis and potentially deadly conditions such as atherosclerosis or heart disease.
Also, some common systemic diseases can show their first symptoms in your mouth. Conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, anemia, and even some types of cancer, are often first visible in the mouth – long before any more visible symptoms prompt you to get a blood test or to visit a specialist.
All these conditions are much easier to treat if caught and managed early. In the case of oral or bone cancer, early detection is the single most important factor to save your life.
- Saves You Money
Regular deep cleanings and preventive checkups can seem like an immediate dent on your credit card balance, especially if you do not have dental insurance. However, the costs attached to a simple checkup are tiny when compared to the final tab after an emergency tooth removal or to getting implants. Studies have shown that every dollar spent on prevention can save you between $8 to $50 in treatment later on.
When it comes to preventive dental care, this takes the form of:
- Sealant applications, which will prevent cavity treatments the following year
- Avoiding expensive bone grafts to treat advanced periodontitis
- Avoiding the expenses of dentures, bridges, and implants following tooth loss
- Cutting short the significant “emergency over costs” that follows an emergency tooth removal
- For children with developing biting or tooth placement problems, early detection means much shorter and less invasive orthodontic treatments.
- Helps Build a Better Alliance between You and Your Dentist
One of the most important factors that determine the success of any treatment is the degree of trust between a practitioner and a patient. Dentistry is especially affected by this, as dental treatments are particularly feared by a large amount of the population.
The effect of a close relationship goes both ways, after all: if your dentist knows you well, he or she will be more likely to know exactly what types of procedures will make you uncomfortable or cause you pain. They will also know your medical history better and will know what symptoms to look for. Even in the event of an accident, they will also know more about your pain tolerance and will be able to prescribe enough painkillers to keep you comfortable without fear of overprescribing (a huge concern in the developing fight against the opiate crisis).
- Better Breath, Better Relationships (and even Better Self Esteem)
Chronic bad breath or halitosis results from quick bacterial overgrowth in the mouth and gums. Often, many patients find that bad breath can develop just a couple of hours after brushing and flossing, even if they have no cavities or serious diseases.
This type of bacteria overgrowth is best fought through regular deep cleanings. While it may seem like a relatively minor concern in the grand scheme of things, it will have a huge impact on the way people around you perceive you. In turn, this often has a huge effect on self-esteem and confidence.
If you work with the public (for example, in sales), preventing bad breath will directly increase your income. If you don’t, you are still likely to notice a difference in the way people react to you.
Preventive dental care is not just an investment: it is a cornerstone of long-term health!