There’s a theory about dental anxiety that goes something like this: patients miss an exam and forget to reschedule. Then, they miss the next visit and the one after that. Soon, they start to fear making an appointment – Will the cleaning take an extra-long time? What if someone comments about how long it’s been? This anxiety causes them to continue to delay seeing the dentist.
If this sounds familiar, let us reassure you: we understand that life happens. We’re human too and we realize that sometimes work schedules and other obligations make it difficult to come in, and it’s natural to start feeling anxious about the dentist. Whether you’re coming in for your routine six-month appointment or it’s been six years since you’ve seen a dentist, we promise we’ll never lecture you and we’ll do everything we can to make you feel comfortable during your visit.
That said, there are some really compelling reasons to get back on track and see your dentist regularly:
Your dental visits will be shorter
It’s true – when you come to the dentist more often, you’ll spend less time in the exam chair. Often people who have anxiety surrounding routine dental visits are nervous about their dental cleaning, but the good news is that patients who come in every six months and are diligent about brushing and flossing at home have short, painless visits. When your teeth are in good shape, there’s simply less work for us to do.
Good oral health means better overall health
The body isn’t made up of organs and systems working separately. Everything is interconnected and when one part of the body is out of balance or sick, the rest of the body suffers for it. During routine dental exams, we’re often able to spot signs of disorders elsewhere in your body by looking at your teeth and gums.
You might be surprised to learn that diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes may cause symptoms in the mouth before you notice symptoms elsewhere in the body. While we cannot diagnose or treat these conditions, we’re trained to see abnormalities and can refer you to a doctor for further assessment.
Your six-month dental check-ups are also when we perform screenings for oral cancer – that’s why we ask you to stick out your tongue and check each side. We’ll also look at your jaw, neck, lips, and cheeks for lesions and growths. Early diagnosis for oral cancer means better outcomes.
Finally, regular dental visits are one of the best ways to prevent gum disease – and gum disease is increasingly believed to be linked to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events. Scientists think this may be because inflammation in the gums increases inflammation elsewhere in the body.
Preventive care is less expensive than restorative care
Restorative dental care can be as simple and inexpensive as a filling for a cavity, or it can cost tens of thousands of dollars for dental implants. Regardless of the type of restorative care needed, even the least expensive treatments are more expensive than a simple routine dental exam and cleaning. Preventive care keeps dental costs down.