No Dental Pain, No Treatment Needed, Right? Wrong!
During my time as a Dentist, I have heard many reasons why someone would put off necessary dental treatment and many of those reasons were even sound.
Some of the valid reasons patients have shared are personal, like money issues, relocating to another city or state, severe family illnesses, personal health issues (heart, liver, kidney, etc.), or wanting to take care of another family member first.
However, the reason I hear most often is actually a very bad reason: "It didn't hurt, so I didn't think I needed to come in." Many times, serious health issues don't hurt, especially in the earlier stages, but they are still bona fide health-related illnesses or issues that would be better addressed sooner rather than later.
Some very common systemic illnesses that do not hurt, at least in the early stages, include hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, cancer, arteriosclerosis, and localized aneurisms. While some of these pathologies may cause pain in the later, more progressed stages, most commonly they do not cause pain until they are further along and dangerous to your overall health.
Regular screening and testing can alert doctors of these potentially serious illnesses and allow treatment to be performed early, thereby reducing the overall morbidity and mortality of these conditions. The same reasoning should be applied to your mouth.
Typically, cavities do not hurt until they are large and require more serious procedures like root canals, crowns, and extractions. Early detection and diagnosis of cavities will often result in small fillings and a change in the oral care regimen practiced by the patient.
A small filling and adding an electric toothbrush, flossing more often and with the proper technique, or adding a Waterpik® to the overall nightly ritual may be all the prevention and treatment a patient needs. Each of these options is relatively inexpensive, when compared to root canals, crowns, or extractions.
If I had a nickel for every time a patient said to me: “Why is dentistry so expensive?” I would have quite a few bucks in my pocket. The reason some patients find dentistry expensive is because they “wait until something hurts” and then it requires a larger, more complex procedure which is more expensive.
The take-home lesson here is: See your doctors routinely; your Primary Care Physician, your Dentist, and your Specialists if you have them. Doing this one single thing will save you money in the long-term and give you peace-of-mind along the way. Who doesn't want to save some money and have less to worry about? Schedule your appointments regularly and you will be glad you did!