As humans, we’re pretty good at convincing ourselves to seek pleasure and avoid pain. But what if the reasons we’re using to inform our actions are actually leading us astray?
For one reason or another, visiting the dentist is an activity that doesn’t make the pleasure category. Even though routine dental visits are the surest way to prevent and treat oral health issues, only 35% of working-age American adults visit the dentist annually.
Here are the top 6 reasons why people don’t see their dentists—and 6 reasons why making that twice-annual trip to your dentist’s office can actually help you feel good every day.
Across most age groups, the cost is the biggest reason why people choose not to see their dentist. Though budgeting to have your teeth cleaned may sound less exciting than saving for your next vacation, investing in your oral health pays off in more ways than one.
While poor oral health can contribute to tooth loss, health issues, low self-esteem, and the need for more extensive and expensive dental work, good oral health can preserve your teeth, boost your overall health, increase self-confidence, and require minimal preventative maintenance.
REASON TO SEE YOUR DENTIST: INVESTMENT
Investing in your oral health now can help you protect some of your most valuable assets: your teeth, health, long-term finances, and sense of wellbeing.
2. THE BELIEF THAT ORAL HEALTH IS ALREADY GOOD.
If you routinely brush, floss, and are symptom-free, it’s easy to believe that your oral health is already in good standing and that visiting the dentist is more of a nuisance than a need. Though your proactivity is definitely praiseworthy and worth continuing, even your best oral hygiene efforts can’t remove tartar or replicate the tools and techniques of a dental team.
Tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a rough, crusty deposit that forms when plaque is left on your teeth. In addition to being unattractive and prone to stains, tartar makes it difficult to remove plaque from your teeth, heightening your risk for cavities, gum recession, and gum disease.
Alongside the unmatched ability to remove sneaky tartar from your teeth, your dental team can detect dental issues early. Through routine exams and cleanings, your dentist can locate and treat tooth decay, fractures, and signs of gum disease in their earliest stages—before they advance into big-problem dentistry.
REASON TO SEE YOUR DENTIST: SELF-CARE
Like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, and drinking enough water, visiting the dentist twice a year is an irreplaceable form of self-care that can improve your health and daily quality of living.
Time is truly one of our most valued commodities. In fact, research has demonstrated that spending money on something that saves us time can generate more happiness than splurging on something material. As we strive to preserve our precious time, skipping out on the dentist can seem like an easy way to keep some of those minutes for work or play.
Like all other justifications for avoiding the dentist, there’s a catch: while bowing out of routine preventative care can save you some time, in the beginning, it can cost you more time (and money) in the end. Dental issues, such as tooth decay and gum disease, can cause irreversible damage that can only be remedied by restorative treatments. The longer a dental issue is left untreated, the more time you’ll spend in the dentist’s chair to correct the damage.
REASON TO SEE YOUR DENTIST: LONG-TERM
Time-saverIn the big picture, choosing to visit the dentist now can help you protect your precious time and avoid unnecessary discomfort and stress.
If dental anxiety or fear has stopped you from seeing your dentist, you’re not alone. An estimated 80% of Americans have some level of dental anxiety, with 9% to 15% avoiding the dentist entirely due to anxiety or fear.
Unfortunately, because those with dental anxiety have a tendency to cancel or avoid dental visits, they are more likely to experience tooth decay, tooth loss, and a decline in physical, mental, and social health—all of which can cause more anxiety. The good news? Because dental anxiety is so common, your dentist is well equipped to help you through it.
“No matter what, your dentist has been a dental patient much longer than he’s been a dentist,” says Dr. Guerriero of Bela Family Dentistry of Sandhills. “I know exactly how it feels to lie back in the dentist’s chair, wear the sunglasses and bib, and have spit siphoned out of my mouth. It can feel totally awkward, uncomfortable, and even nerve-wracking. That’s why my team and I are so dedicated to open communication and compassion. We know what it’s like to be on your side and are here to listen to you, support you, and co-create solutions.”
REASON TO SEE YOUR DENTIST: SELF-EMPOWERMENT
You can take control of your oral health and dental experience by talking to your dentist about your worries and fears. When your dental team knows what your concerns are, they will partner with you to develop a personalized plan that helps you quell anxiety, increase comfort, and enjoy the positive physical and mental benefits of good oral health.
If your oral health isn’t in the best shape, it can feel especially intimidating to let someone examine your mouth and teeth. You may feel like your dentist or hygienist will judge you for neglecting your oral health or for having issues with your teeth. A vicious cycle, the longer the shame stops you from seeing your dentist, the greater your oral health issues will be. So how can you break the cycle of feeling ashamed about your teeth? Find a dentist who is guided by compassion and makes you feel safe. A good dentist will never judge you, no matter what condition your oral health may be in.
REASON TO SEE YOUR DENTIST: RESTORE YOUR SELF-ESTEEM
Receiving the oral health care you need can help you break free from feeling ashamed about your mouth and teeth and restore your sense of personal worth and self-confidence.
6. MISSING THE CONNECTION BETWEEN ORAL HEALTH AND OVERALL HEALTH
In addition to being linked to our mental wellbeing (see #4 and #5), your oral health directly influences the health of your entire body. Poor oral health has been associated with serious health issues, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, premature birth, and low birth weight. Certain medical conditions, such as disorders of the immune and metabolic systems, can also make you more likely to experience oral health issues.
REASON TO SEE YOUR DENTIST: HOLISTIC HEALTHCARE
Every system of your body is interconnected. The health of your mouth influences your physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Choosing to visit your dentist regularly can help ensure you get to experience your highest potential to live healthfully.
Be the reason you experience the benefits of good oral health each and every day. Contact our office to schedule your next appointment today.