It is simply human nature to procrastinate dental work. There are multiple known reasons for this, including fear of discomfort, time constraints, and fear of the unknown. Modern dental techniques that make dental care much more comfortable than in days past; technology that makes dental appointments much shorter, and a plethora of free information about dentistry that can be found on the internet and in dental office multi-media sources make these reasons less and less significant for procrastination of dental treatment. Over the past several years, financial reasons seem to be emerging as the most common reason that people tend to postpone needed dental care.
Ironically, postponing dental care for financial reasons usually costs much more when pain develops, or a tooth breaks. Tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease follow predictable courses of development. When a dentist first detects a problem, usually the disease process has already progressed significantly.
Cavities begin when the surface of the tooth begins to dissolve from acids produced by germs. Usually, they are at least 40-50% larger than they actually appear on a typical dental x-ray. Once it reaches the inner part of the tooth (the dentin), decay spreads rapidly, causing the support mechanism for the brittle outer shell (the enamel) to turn mushy. Teeth break and crumble when this occurs. Once the cavity reaches the pulp of the tooth (“nerve”), then an abscess develops, some of which can be life-threatening. The only alternatives at that point are tooth removal or root canal therapy.
Periodontal disease starts at bleeding gums. Simply put, healthy gums don’t bleed. Left untreated, the bone begins to react to the inflammation and then breaks down. Over time, bone is lost that cannot be replaced. Eventually, the affected teeth become loose and then are lost.
Treating cavities and gum disease at early stages cost much less than fixing advanced problems. Furthermore, dental insurance companies usually are designed to manage early dental problems rather than advanced dental disease. In fact, insurance companies usually assume that a person is in perfect dental health when they become a client. This is obvious because so many dental plans have pre-existing condition clauses and missing tooth clauses that negate coverage for advanced dental procedures to treat problems that were initiated before the dental insurance took effect. Many dentists are beginning to offer financial arrangements that provide opportunities to postpone payments for dental treatment rather than the care itself. The bottom line is this…postponing needed dental care for financial reasons is unwise.
We welcome the opportunity to provide you with comprehensive oral health care and invite you to schedule a visit to meet Dr. Huff and our team.