An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That old saying certainly holds true when it comes to dental care. Consistent routine care and regular check-ups are the best way to prevent painful and costly problems that can put your overall health at risk. Are there barriers to getting into the dentist’s chair regularly? Of course. But years of experience and clinical studies show us that preventive care is the best way to protect your oral health and keep dental costs low.
How Often Do I Need To Go To The Dentist?
Both adults and children should see their dentist for a cleaning and an exam every six months. Semi-annual check-ups allow us to check for cavities, make sure gums are healthy, and screen for oral cancer. We’ll also keep track of baby tooth loss and spacing as new permanent teeth come in for kids. One of the main benefits of routine visits is catching problems early. We check for cavities, problems with existing fillings or other dental work, early warning signs of gum disease, and oral cancer. For children, routine visits are an opportunity to spot the need for orthodontic care and make referrals as needed. For example, if we catch tooth decay right away, we can often manage it with a small filling. But if a patient waits until the spot becomes painful, more complex interventions like a root canal or crown may be needed. Once you get into the habit of seeing a dentist regularly, it becomes an easy and comfortable part of your healthcare routine. Regular check-ups mean fewer surprises and a lower likelihood you’ll need costly repairs.
How Does My Dental Health Affect My Overall Health?
The connection between oral health and overall health has become more apparent over the years. Doctors and dentists now understand how closely our teeth and gums are related to our bodies as a whole. Gum disease and dental infections can pose significant health risks. According to the Mayo Clinic, oral health conditions are linked to endocarditis, a heart infection resulting from oral bacteria entering the bloodstream. Dental problems are also linked to:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pregnancy and birth complications including premature birth and low birth weight
What If I Can’t Afford To See The Dentist Every Six Months?
The data are clear: when it comes to oral or overall health, prevention is more cost-effective than delaying care. But financial concerns can keep us out of the dentist’s chair. If you don’t think you can afford routine visits, here are some suggestions for making it work:
- Most dentists will file insurance claims on patients’ behalf, even if they are not considered “in-network” for that plan. Keeping lines of communication open with your dentist and your insurance company is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the best coverage for dental care.
- If you have a high-deductible health insurance policy with a health savings plan, you can use those HSA funds for dental care.
- More and more dentists are accepting the CareCredit healthcare credit program. CareCredit offers special financing and low monthly payments to cover procedures from root canals to cosmetic dentistry.
How Can I Catch Up If I’ve Let Dental Care Slide?
If you’ve let your oral health take a back seat, it may be intimidating to make that first appointment. But it’s never too late to get started on a path to excellent oral health. Patients often let dental care slide because of financial concerns or anxiety about the dentist. But as with almost any medical condition, the longer you wait, the worse things will get. Taking that first step is crucial, and don’t let fear of judgment get in the way. At Hall Family Dentistry, we have a judgment-free approach to get patients on solid ground. We’ll work with you to develop phased treatment plans to make you more comfortable and tackle dental problems step by step. We’ll create a new oral health baseline and help you move forward with positive and proactive routine care.