Can’t remember the last time you visited the dentist? You’re not the only one. Fear and cost are the top reasons why Aussies avoid the dentist, however… the reasons why you avoid your dentist are the very same reasons why you must see your dentist.
Dental problems are notorious for requiring complex and pricey treatment when they are long standing and chronic in nature.
Part of my duty of care as a dentist is educating my patients on why it is important for them to visit me. Some doctors send out postcard reminders, others give a courtesy call… they are doing this so that they can check up on you and make sure your oral health is up to scratch. Tackling dental issues early on could mean the difference between a small filling or root canal treatment. Remember that many problems can be prevented by keeping regular with your 6 monthly check ups and cleans. I stress the importance of this because I offer emergency services and everyday I hear about the regrets of not going to the dentist sooner. I have highlighted the top 3 regrets in this blog..
Regret #1: worsening of teeth and gum problems
What kinds of problems can be prevented? Tooth Decay – also referred to as a cavity. It is when a tooth is broken down by bacteria. Bacteria break down food in the mouth and produce acid. This acid then destroys tooth enamel causing tooth decay. Sometimes you can see a hole in the tooth, other times it occurs in places you cannot see such as in between the teeth. Toothache – pain associated with a tooth, usually when the nerve in a tooth is infected or exposed. This occurs due to having a cavity, infection or from trauma. Loss of teeth – when teeth are removed (extracted) from the mouth. This is a last resort, when there is no way to repair or save the teeth. It is usually due to a deep cavity, infection or trauma. Root canal treatment – removing the infected nerve from a tooth. It involves cleaning the inside of the tooth and usually occurs when a cavity has gotten too big or a trauma has exposed the nerve deep within the tooth. Gingivitis and Periodontitis – irreversible damage of the gum and bone due to a silent infection. This can result in bad breath, loose teeth, food trapping between teeth, bleeding gums and is closely associated with your general health. It is linked to heart conditions, type II diabetes and premature birth of babies. These are all examples of dental issues that can be prevented through regular visits to the dentist.
Regret #2: dental phobias brewing
The sooner kids see a dentist, the more comfortable they feel with dental treatment (see my other blogs on this topic). Establishing a great relationship with your dentist is crucial early on in life. As a parent you can help by creating positive stories and associations with visiting the dentist. Try to minimise any negative associations, for example – leave your child at home if you are getting an extraction, minimise talking about negative experiences you/other people have had at the dentist in front of your child and avoid exposing your child to any fearful or painful experiences at the dentist.
Regret #3: undetected oral cancer
Early diagnosis of oral cancer is paramount. Oral cancer can remain undetected for many years because rarely do people look in their mouths. Oral cancer may metastasise (spread to other parts of the body) and become very dangerous. If diagnosed early, oral cancer can be quickly removed and treated, increasing your survival rate. I have diagnosed a handful in my career and there has been an increase recently possibly due to HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) or simply due to better detection. There is an increased risk in smokers and those that have a high intake of alcohol. Early diagnosis of other pathology can also be achieved. These include developmental anomalies (for example – missing adult teeth, or impacted teeth which may cause problems in the future), cysts and tumours.
I have shared with you the top 3 regrets I hear from not going to the dentist regularly. You are not alone – many people haven’t seen their dentist in months or years. If this sounds like you and you need advice, please call: